Dear students and colleagues,
I am writing to inform you that the University of Cape Town (UCT) is making plans to invite sixth-year medical students to participate in a controlled return to campus. Their return will be voluntary and will need to take place before 31 May 2020 – the deadline set by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, for final-year clinical training students to travel back to their university programmes. Details of the controlled return of these students are being finalised and will be communicated to them in due course by the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Department of Student Affairs.
Students who accept the offer to return to their clinical training will be required to comply with a number of safety conditions as required by the government and UCT. One of these is that all returning students must enter a 14-day self-quarantine period on arrival to their rooms in residence, or their private accommodation. They will also need to follow protocols for good public health practice.
We want to stress that students may choose not to return at this time. For instance, some students may be immunosuppressed and so are at high risk of infection. Arrangements will be made for these students to complete their degree at a later date.
The return of these students to their programme of study will involve careful planning and thorough consultation to ensure the safety of all who are involved. We are mindful of the government restrictions under Level Four lockdown and we do not take the risk of exposure to COVID-19 lightly. Appropriate personal protective equipment will be issued to students as well as to staff members in residences and in the Faculty of Health Sciences. We are working in consultation with labour unions and taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone who will be involved.
I would like to thank the colleagues in the different departments who are involved in planning the return of these medical students to campus. They include members of the executive, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Loretta Feris and Chief Operating Officer Dr Reno Morar; the Faculty of Health Sciences, led by the Dean, Associate Professor Lionel Green-Thompson; the Department of Student Affairs, headed by Dr Moonira Khan; and the Properties & Services Department, headed by Mr Mughtar Parker.
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 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.
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.
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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.