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The spike of infections on both the University’s Port Elizabeth and George campuses is deeply concerning, all the more so because of ongoing blatant non-compliance of COVID-19 preventative measures.

Irresponsible Behaviour

Irresponsible behaviour, like that of attending after-hours parties and/or mingling unmasked in crowded areas, has had a massively negative impact within the Nelson Mandela Metro and George, including our campuses. Individuals who frequent such environments can unwittingly become key drivers in sharing the highly contagious virus. These “super spreaders” can infect at least ten others who, in turn, can each infect another ten or more people and so on.

According to officials, this has turned Nelson Mandela Bay into a “hotspot” (see article). Hospitals in the Bay are already full and there are presently close to 5 000 active COVID-19 cases.  Similarly, some areas in George have reported a surge in infections in excess of 200%.

Latest statistics

Internally, case numbers have leapfrogged since the less restrictive Level 1 was introduced on 21 September as more and more staff and students returned to campus. Up until October, there had been just 10 reported cases among students; by 01 November, this had increased to 60, and by today (12 November), 104 students have tested positive, of whom 59 are still active.

As a result, there are presently large numbers of contacts and Persons Under Investigations (PUIs), all of whom are in quarantine. In one case, more than 100 people had to be traced after having been in direct contact with the one infected individual. 

The sharp increase in COVID-19 staff numbers is equally frightening. From the initial 60-plus cases during the national peak in June and July, and a 10-week stint of no cases, staff numbers have increased to 121.

Impact of increased cases

The impact of the increased numbers is far-reaching.

Residences need to be quarantined; affected areas decontaminated and infected staff and students and close contacts (PUI) need to be moved to isolate and recover in suitable separate facilities.

Frontline staff are put under increasing strain, especially if their numbers are further reduced because colleagues have been infected or affected by the virus; academic plans have to be consistently adjusted to accommodate missing students and anxiety levels in the Mandela University community are further heightened.

Of even greater concern is that the end result could be our collective failure to save the academic year and the possible loss of further lives. Nelson Mandela University has already lost five staff members to the pandemic.

Proactive approach in ensuring safety

To this end, as has already been shared, the University has increased its efforts to mitigate the risks and is doing what it can to contain the spread of the virus. The safety of staff and students remains our leading priority.

George Campus

By way of example, George Campus has taken a precautionary measure of introducing a campus curfew following a recent outbreak there. The campus is now out of bounds from 6pm to 6am for the next two weeks, with access granted only for emergencies. Under no circumstances will private vehicles, including metred taxis, be allowed to enter or transport students during these times.


Similar pro-active interventions like the suspension of all on-campus student activities, including most sanctioned academic activities, until such time as the second surge of infections has passed, and pleas for staff and students to continue to work and study remotely.

Alcohol and drugs are banned, along with meetings in rooms and attending parties, on or off-campus.

Various sanctions are in place to counter non-compliance.

Take responsibility

Ultimately, however, if you are not playing your part, then no strategy or any of the combined interventions will ever work to prevent the spread of the virus

Each of us has to take responsibility to collectively and individually work to curb further spread of the virus. Each of us needs to hold the other accountable.

It is in your “sanitised” hands!

Coronavirus Task Team

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057