19 January 2021

Health questions and contacts | UCT’s response to COVID-19

Health questions and contacts

(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 Proof of the pre-screen must be provided when arriving at reception.

(Updated 31 August) Every person entering a UCT campus is required to complete the HealthCheck app each time they enter the campus.
(Updated 31 August) The HealthCheck app is available on the Higher Health website.
(Updated 31 August) We are trying to prevent persons who may be infected with COVID-19 from entering the university and transmitting the infection to others.

(Updated 31 August) Symptom screening involves downloading the HealthCheck app and following these steps:

  • Complete the app (preferably at home before coming to UCT).
  • The app will ask if you have any of a number of symptoms.
  • Based on your answers, the app will show:
    • green – you may enter campus
    • red – you may NOT enter campus
    • orange/amber – you should contact your healthcare provider.
  • You need to show your results to the Campus Protection Services officers at the entrance to the campus.
  • Only those with results showing green will be allowed to enter.

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 26 August) Staff and students who develop symptoms on campus must immediately report their symptoms to their manager or student coordinator.

(Updated 31 August) If you identify someone who may be sick or has flu-like symptoms at UCT:

  • Keep your mask on and maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres.
  • In a caring and calm way, ensure that the person remains in the room.
  • Immediately contact your line manager or supervisor.
  • Ensure that the person goes to the designated isolation room for your area (line managers should be aware of the site of their closest isolation room).
  • Contact the UCT COVID Hotline on 021 650 0999 and they will inform you how to proceed.
  • Line managers should continue to monitor staff members by contacting them or their families / next of kin.
  • Heads of departments should notify Blanche Claasen-Hoskins at Organisational Health on 021 650 5685.
  • Student Wellness Service will monitor students.
  • For transport to an isolation facility, contact Clive Lippert on 021 650 5285.

(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.

All SWS social workers will be available for telephonic psychosocial support. Sessions must be booked, as usual, either online or via email to

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 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

  • 021 650 5620 (office hours)
  • 021 650 1271 (after hours)
  • 021 650 5685 (staff only)

(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:

  • Calling toll-free for counselling over the phone: 080 111 3945
  • Sending a please-call-me to: *134*905#
  • Emailing

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.

Discovery Health

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.

  • Lancet Laboratories are operating a drive-through testing service for symptomatic people who have a doctor’s referral to get tested. Lancet testing sites in Cape Town offer a 24–48-hour turnaround time and will accept payment for COVID-19 tests via medical aid.
  • PathCare has specific service conditions. Please phone to make a booking and enquire about service conditions before going for a test.

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

(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 so that an S18A tax certificate can be issued for the donation.

Read more about the UCT COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

(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.

(Updated 16 November) This matter is under review by the relevant departments and will be communicated once a decision is made.

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UCT’s response to COVID-19 in 2021

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.

Frequently asked questions


Daily updates

Friday, 5 February 14:20, 5 February 2021
Monday, 4 January 16:50, 4 January 2021
Friday, 18 December 11:30, 18 December 2020
Thursday, 19 November 09:30, 19 November 2020
Friday, 13 November 12:40, 13 November 2020
Friday, 16 October 10:05, 16 October 2020
Wednesday, 14 October 12:50, 14 October 2020
Tuesday, 22 September 14:10, 22 September 2020
Friday, 11 September 10:05, 11 September 2020
Monday, 31 August 12:20, 31 August 2020
Wednesday, 12 August 10:20, 12 August 2020
Friday, 7 August 11:24, 7 August 2020
Thursday, 6 August 18:26, 6 August 2020
Monday, 27 July 14:00, 27 July 2020
Wednesday, 15 July 09:30, 15 July 2020
Monday, 13 July 14:25, 13 July 2020
Monday, 6 July 16:20, 6 July 2020
Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
Thursday, 18 June 17:35, 18 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
Friday, 29 May 09:25, 29 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
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Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
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Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
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Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
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Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
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Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
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Campus communications



New SRC and other updates 16:44, 4 November 2020
Virtual graduation ceremonies 13:30, 21 October 2020
Online staff assembly and other updates 15:09, 30 September 2020
Fee adjustments and other updates 15:21, 16 September 2020
Call for proposals: TLC2020 10:15, 26 August 2020
SAULM survey and other updates 15:30, 5 August 2020
COVID-19 cases and other updates 15:26, 5 August 2020
New UCT Council and other updates 15:12, 15 July 2020
Upcoming UCT virtual events 09:30, 15 July 2020
Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020
UCT Human Resources and COVID-19 16:05, 19 March 2020
UCT confirms second COVID-19 case 09:15, 19 March 2020
Update on UCT COVID-19 response 13:50, 11 March 2020
Update on COVID-19 17:37, 6 March 2020


Video messages from the Department of Medicine

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.

Useful information from UCT

External resources

News and opinions

Statements and media releases

Media releases

Read more  

Statements from Government


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.