Your role in limiting the health risk of returning to UCT

22 September 2020 | From Kgethi

Dear students and colleagues

The shift to Lockdown Level One from midnight on Sunday, 20 September 2020, combined with the phased return of some students and staff members to campus, is raising many questions about the possible effect on the University of Cape Town (UCT).

I am writing to remind you that our top priority is the health and safety of every person who enters campus property. For this reason, only those who have received written invitations or letters of authorisation may return.

All of us on campus, staff members and students, need to help each other to follow the basic rules for reducing the chance of spreading infection:

  • Wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times when outside of your private room or workspace.
  • Keep a distance of 1.5m from other people. Staff members must maintain this distance at their work areas.
  • Regularly wash or sanitise your hands (sanitisers are available at all building entrances).

Everyone who returns to campus at this time will need to observe all public health and safety protocols.

Students can only return to residence if they have received an invitation to do so, and may only arrive on the date specified in that invitation. Students exercise individual accountability in complying with the obligatory public health safety measures listed above, to protect their own health and that of the residence community.

Catering operations will resume from 1 October 2020 for students who have meal plan options. Students undergoing compulsory quarantine can collect daily meal packs at a designated point within the residence during quarantine. Students will only be allowed in the dining hall after they have completed their compulsory quarantine and must comply with the dining hall protocols.

Cleaning materials and refuse bags will be provided to residence students to freshen up their rooms and dispose of refuse. Students will remain responsible for their room hygiene.

As a campus community, we are relying on each of you to take personal responsibility to follow these protocols and to remind each other if someone happens to forget them. Because these protocols are so important, there is also a legal responsibility to follow them. In adhering to these protocols, we are fulfilling our part of the collective community responsibility to help protect people from the impact of this pandemic. We are jointly responsible to protect all students, staff and visitors to UCT, as well as their loved ones at home. We are responsible for each other and UCT will take the required action against any breach of these protocols.

In an effort to prevent persons who may be infected with COVID-19 from entering the university and transmitting the infection, Campus Protection Services (CPS) colleagues are under instruction to check all people coming onto campus. For access to campus, each staff member and student must first receive a letter of authorisation to enter campus. You must complete a daily COVID-19 symptom checklist using the Higher Health app. No person will be permitted to enter campus without the ‘green light’ on the app as evidence that you are symptom safe to do so.

You must be able to show the Green result of the Higher Health app every day, along with your letter of authorisation. Access to buildings will be monitored by CPS colleagues. Anyone entering a building must use the hand sanitiser at the entrance*. Stricter protocols may also be required for access to certain labs and offices.

Because of the need for social distancing, it is safest to limit the number of people on campus and in rooms. For this reason, we still encourage UCT students and staff members who can work from home to continue to do so.

I urge you to read the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about UCT’s response to COVID-19. We will continue to update the FAQs as new information becomes available.

It is important to remember what President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “By any measure, we are still in the midst of a deadly epidemic. Our greatest challenge now – and our most important task – is to ensure that we do not experience a new surge in infections.”

Because we are a campus community, it is important to watch out for each other. We do this by each taking personal responsibility to follow the protocols during this COVID-19 pandemic as well as helping others to be compliant with the protocols. Thank you for paying attention to these rules and helping each other to follow them.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

* All individuals must be able to produce the result of the daily Covid-19 symptom screening ‘HealthCheck’ and will only be allowed onto campus if it is a ‘green’ result. For individuals who do not have an appropriate personal electronic device, CPS staff will assist them to complete at the ‘HealthCheck’ app at the entry point to campus. In addition individuals must carry with them a letter of invitation, letter of authorisation and their staff access card. Please refer to the Departmental Return-to-Work Plan as approved by the CCC regarding management of building access. Anyone entering a building must use the hand sanitiser where provided. Stricter protocols may also be required for access to certain labs and offices.
Updated: 08:30, 23 September 2020

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

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 with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

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.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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.