Health questions and contacts | UCT’s response to COVID-19
(Updated 11 December 2020)
Health and government officials have warned of rising COVID-19 infection rates in South Africa. We urge you to take the necessary precautions and avoid large gatherings, enclosed spaces and crowds during this festive season and holidays.
Please bear in mind that if you plan to travel, it may become more difficult to return to UCT when you need to do so, in case of travel bans or limitations.
We encourage staff and students to take time off after what has been a draining and difficult year, but we urge you to please follow the guidelines.
(Updated 26 August) In terms of the COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, UCT should provide three cloth masks to all staff members and students reporting to campus. Staff and students must always wear their cloth masks on campus and while commuting to and from campus. They should wash their used cloth masks every day and wear a fresh mask every day. Additional personal protective equipment will be provided to health system staff.
Workplaces must be arranged to allow a minimum of two metres between staff/students. Workstations must be adapted to increase physical distancing. Students and staff must not gather in communal areas, such as toilets and smoking areas. The use of lifts must be limited to one person at a time. Venues need to be kept well ventilated.
Staff/students must ensure they wash their hands regularly. UCT will ensure that staff/students have access to sanitiser at the entrance to the area where they will work.
University shuttle services must have preventive measures in place, with no more than 50% occupancy.
(Updated 26 August) Every person entering campus will be screened. All those arriving on campus need to show their results of a pre-screen electronic questionnaire, which is available at healthcheck.higherhealth.ac.za. Proof of the pre-screen must be provided when arriving at reception.
(Updated 31 August) Symptom screening involves downloading the HealthCheck app and following these steps:
If the app is red, you possibly have symptoms of COVID-19 and should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of the symptoms. You should also monitor your health and, if your condition worsens, you should contact your healthcare provider or the UCT COVID hotline 021 650 0999.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to flu symptoms, so all persons with flu-like symptoms should be considered a potential case of COVID-19 and should not enter UCT.
(Updated 31 August) The HealthCheck app is designed to identify persons with possible symptoms of COVID-19 and prevent them from entering UCT.
However, persons infected with COVID-19 are infectious one or two days before they show symptoms, and so a few cases may not be detected by the screening app. Some people might not recognise that they have symptoms, especially if they are very mild. Others may only begin to show symptoms while at work.
The aim of the screening is to reduce the likelihood of someone infected with COVID-19 entering UCT, but there may be cases of persons infected with COVID-19 at UCT.
(Updated 31 August) If you identify someone who may be sick or has flu-like symptoms at UCT:
(Updated 26 August) Students can reach out to UCT’s Student Wellness Service (SWS), which offers online and telephonic counselling and support.
The UCT Student Care Line continues to provide 24-hour telephonic counselling on 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or SMS 31393 for a callback.
SWS bookings can be made online, via email or on the UCT mobile app.
Counselling: Students can continue to access their therapists for counselling via telephone or Skype. Sessions can be booked as usual, either online or via email. Students can book with any of the counsellors on the SWS booking site – they don’t have to book with their usual faculty counsellor.
Medical advisory: Students can seek medical advice by calling SWS on 021 650 5620. Please note: these calls are not consultations. Students can also book a request online for a consultation with the Clinical Nurse Practitioner, who will call back at the appointed time.
Referral letters to other facilities and external services will be provided upon receipt of an emailed request.
Peer counselling support: Peer-counsellors from SWS will offer counselling and public awareness programmes from 12:00 to 17:00 from Monday to Saturday. Peer support is also available via telephonic contact, Skype, Zoom and email. Appointments can be arranged via direct messenger or the SWS website.
To continue supporting survivors of sexual assault, UCT’s Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC) is running a weekly online Survivor Support Group (SSG). The OIC’s specialist wellness counsellor and survivor support officer, Yumna Seadat, runs the SSGs, which take place every Tuesday from 17:30 to 19:30. These SSGs will continue online until all staff and students have returned to campus.
To join an online SSG, potential participants should contact Seadat via email at Yumna.Seadat@uct.ac.za to arrange an initial one-on-one meeting, when Seadat will discuss confidentiality, anonymity and how to gain access to the online SSG via Microsoft Teams.
UCT Student Wellness Service
(Updated 26 August) UCT Human Resources (HR) offers many forms of support, including the coordination of services provided by the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Read the full list of counselling services available on UCT HR’s Health and Wellness web page.
During this unprecedented time, we have asked ICAS to increase their capacity for managing the immediate needs of our staff members. While ICAS on-site counselling is suspended for now, the same counsellors are available to conduct telephonic counselling. You can access these services by:
ICAS recently launched a new online app, ICAS On-the-Go, which allows you to chat live with an ICAS counsellor. The app gives you and your family access to a 24/7/365 Employee Wellness Programme and information to address some of your health and wellness needs.
Connect to ICAS On-the-Go. The code for UCT staff is UNI003.
Staff in pay classes 2 to 6 are covered by Kaelo, which is promoting health and wellness through the Kaelo Cares page. Although the onsite UCT clinic is closed during lockdown, Kaelo is providing services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To access these services, Kaelo members can phone their Kaelo primary healthcare network doctors.
Staff in pay classes 7 and above as well as academic staff who are Discovery Health members can access the medical aid provider’s services.
(Updated 26 August) UCT is participating in three international trials in South Africa in search for a COVID-19 vaccine.
(Updated 16 October) UCT set up the COVID-19 Emergency Fund in April 2020 to assist in the fight against the virus and its impact on the university community. The goal is to raise R20 million towards addressing urgent priorities related to staff and students during and after the lockdown. The university is extremely grateful to donors, who have so far contributed more than R8.6 million towards the fund. These donations came from corporates, foundations, alumni and staff, among others.
A donation of any amount, no matter how small, will go a long way towards helping our students complete their academic studies so that the UCT community can contribute to the restoration of our country. Donations towards the COVID-19 Emergency Fund can be made online or deposited directly into the following account:
Bank: Standard Bank | Account name: UCT Donations | Account number: 071 522 387 | Branch code: 025009 | Account type: Business Current Account | Swift address: SBZAZAJJ
Please use COVID-19 and the full name of the donor as the reference.
Proof of payment should be emailed to email@example.com so that an S18A tax certificate can be issued for the donation.
(Updated 14 December) As at 8 December 2020, UCT had 140 reported COVID-19 cases among non-health sciences staff members. Staff recoveries stand at 107. The number of students who have tested positive for the virus is 67, which includes 16 Faculty of Health Sciences students on clinical platforms.
The university has, regrettably, again recorded a notable increase in new cases. Members of the UCT community are urged to remain vigilant and to keep adhering strictly to all COVID-19 protocols.
The university has lost nine staff members and one student to the virus.
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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.
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.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
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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.