Dear students and colleagues
I want to remind you of a special cohort of colleagues who are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing at the University of Cape Town (UCT). We need to salute these individuals who are taking on many different, often difficult, tasks to protect our safety and health. I want to start by acknowledging those whose work is behind the scenes.
Because so many of us have not been on campus lately, we don’t see the hard work that our colleagues in the Properties and Services Department (P&S) are doing to ensure that we have a clean, well-maintained, secure campus to return to. All buildings frequented by UCT students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 before lockdown were identified, closed immediately and disinfected. P&S staff will do an initial clean of campus in readiness for the return of staff and students, according to guidelines provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Cleaning staff will be trained on DHET procedures for the daily cleaning for COVID-19. (According to DHET, disinfection is not required if buildings have been unoccupied for longer than 14 days.)
Our colleagues in Campus Protection Services continue to patrol our buildings and watch over our campuses. Some Information and Communication Technology Services workers also come on site to do essential work. Every colleague who is working on campus is issued with appropriate personal protective equipment and is briefed on hygiene practices such as physical distancing and hand washing. I express gratitude to each of you for serving the UCT community in this way.
Last week, some of our final-year medical students returned to resume their clinical course work. They are supported by colleagues who have agreed to work on-site to provide essential services in the Health Science Faculty, residences and clinics. On behalf of the university, I extend special thanks to colleagues in the Department of Student Affairs, Student Housing, Student Wellness Services, P&S and in the faculty. They are making it possible for these medical students to complete their degree. I also thank the students for returning to UCT at this critical time, to help serve patients who are suffering from a range of medical conditions.
Of course, the real battle is taking place in clinics, hospitals and laboratories. COVID-19 is a threat not just to the human body but also to the healthcare system in general. This is true around the world, but especially in developing countries. UCT experts in relevant disciplines, such as public health, are working long hours with government to develop effective strategies for the province and the nation. Our researchers, their students and staff are investigating the virus and seeking ways to fight it.
In the Western Cape, UCT health sciences practitioners are dealing with an exhausting combination of stresses, including sourcing essential supplies and equipment. Their strain is physical, mental, emotional and managerial, as they are responsible for teams as well as their own work, dealing with many different kinds of health needs in addition to the threat of COVID-19. I hear reports of remarkable dedication, not only of senior colleagues, but also of interns. I am proud that our final-year medical students will be learning from them.
They deserve not only the heartfelt thanks of the UCT community, but also of the Western Cape and South Africa. Their battle has not reached its peak yet. They will need our encouragement and solidarity as we head into winter, when flu viruses have the best chance of attacking. Please join me in thanking them for their selfless service.
With kind regards,
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.
UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.
If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.
The University of Cape Town in partnership with the Western Cape Government (WCG) have reinforced our commitment to bringing hope to the residents of the Mother City with the launch of the world‑class Community of Hope Vaccination Centre that opened its doors on Monday, 30 August 2021.
The site is located on Main Road in Mowbray – in the Forest Hill Residence – and access is from Broad Street. The site is open every Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:00 and on Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00. Please allow time for attending to COVID-19 protocols and arrive as early as possible at the vaccination centre.
This is a space created for all formal bodies and structures within the university community to share their opinions on the need for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy. Please note that some editorial judgement may be applied if the received statements go against any constitutional rights, and that no correspondence will be entered into, statements will be posted unedited and as received. Statements can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.