Update on the novel coronavirus outbreak and other updates

07 February 2020 | Campus Announcement

Dear students and colleagues

This campus announcement aims to inform members of the University of Cape Town (UCT) community about:

1. Update on the novel coronavirus outbreak

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which emerged last month, was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization late last week. With students and staff due to return to UCT classrooms for the beginning of the academic year, the university is monitoring reports of the spread of this disease.

Students who require further information or have questions about 2019-nCoV should contact SWS: sws@uct.ac.za, 021 650 1020/5620 (week days) or 021 650 1271 (weekends and after hours). Staff members can contact Blanche Claasen-Hoskins on 021 650 5685 or Margie Tainton on 021 650 3028.

2. Load-shedding measures in place at UCT

UCT has put measures in place to ensure that minimal teaching and learning time is lost during load-shedding, and that the impact on all other university operations is reduced as far as possible. Both Eskom and the City of Cape Town issue regular notices in advance of load-shedding. UCT’s upper, middle and lower campuses, the health sciences campus and all residences are in Area 15. Hiddingh campus and the Graduate School of Business are in Area 7. Staff and students are encouraged to check load-shedding schedules regularly and to plan accordingly. The university has a limited number of venues with full back-up power, which can be booked for study purposes, but these may not be available if they are already booked for other purposes.

They are:

  • Upper campus: Sports Centre, Chancellor Oppenheimer Library and Sarah Baartman Hall
  • Middle campus: Kramer Building
  • The entire Hiddingh campus.

Some UCT facilities have generators to provide back-up power that is limited to research activities, emergency lighting, some power points, and access and fire-detection systems. Other UCT facilities have uninterruptible power supplies that will provide emergency lighting and some power points for a limited time – usually about two hours. Wi-Fi will unfortunately not be available in most UCT buildings during power outages. Although UCT IP landlines will not function during load-shedding, the Campus Protection Services (CPS) landline (080 650 2222) will still be operational.

UCT has over 100 lifts. Staff and students are cautioned not to use these lifts 10 minutes prior to scheduled load-shedding times. Some of the lifts have emergency dial-out systems that will allow communication with CPS, which you are advised to use if necessary. Alternatively, if you have airtime, make use of your cellphone to contact CPS on 021 650 2222/3.

During load-shedding periods the Maintenance Department staff, in conjunction with contractors, monitor the status of all the generators and ensure that they all start as expected. After load-shedding periods, all generators are refilled with diesel to be ready for the next power cut. Any repairs that need to be done are also attended to timeously to ensure that all generators are available when needed.

3. Memorandum of Understanding between supervisors and postgraduates

A standard-format Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between postgraduate students and their supervisors has been rolled out across the university and its use is now compulsory in all faculties. Guidelines for completing the MoU have also been introduced this year. The MoU is a formal agreement between a postgraduate student (master’s or doctoral) and their supervisor regarding their expectations of each other, and the research requirements for completion of the degree. The intention is for students and supervisors to discuss and agree on important issues at the point of registration.

There are three versions of the MoU: two for postgraduates in their first year of study (ACA47a or ACA47b) and the third for returning postgraduates (ACA48).

Students may direct any questions around the MoU to their supervisor, while supervisors may contact their faculty postgraduate manager if they have any queries.

4. Book launch: ‘UCT Under Apartheid: From onset to sit-in 1948 - 1968’

As part of the Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series, the Development and Alumni Department will host the launch of the book ‘UCT Under Apartheid: From onset to sit-in 1948 – 1968’, written by retired UCT academic Emeritus Professor Howard Phillips. Drawing on an extensive array of sources (written, oral and visual) this richly illustrated volume provides a rounded social, intellectual, educational, cultural and political history of one of Africa’s foremost universities during the first phase of apartheid.

When: Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Where: Centre for African Studies Gallery, [directions]
Level 2, Harry Oppenheimer Institute Building, Engineering Mall Road, UCT upper campus

Time: 17:30 for 18:00

RSVP: Extended to 13:00 on Monday, 10 February. Kindly email alumnievents@uct.ac.za on or before this deadline in order to avoid disappointment.


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Coronavirus Disease 2019 updates

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and 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.

Campus updates

  •  Information
  •  Normal
  •  Caution
  •  Alert

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
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
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
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

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

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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.