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Nelson Mandela University has intensified its efforts to contain the present spike in infections on its campuses and within its accredited off-campus residences through a series of interventions.

Death of Staff Member

These increased measures come as the University community mourns the loss of another staff member, its sixth colleague to date, and first as the second surge of infections in South Africa takes hold. Our sincere condolences go to the individual’s family, friends and work colleagues.

This death comes in the midst of a massive resurgence of infections in Nelson Mandela Metro, which has not only been identified as the epicentre of national cases, but presently among the worst in Africa. See stats at

To counter this, in addition to the University’s overriding principle of continuing to work and study from home wherever this is possible, each staff member and student is being cautioned to behave as if still living under the earlier, stricter lockdown levels. The basic COVID-19 preventative measures of wearing a mask, washing and sanitising hands and practicing physical distancing remain everyone’s best form of defence against the highly-contagious virus.   


As such, in the University’s overriding commitment to save lives and save the academic year in increasingly challenging circumstances, the following intensified interventions have been implemented to contain the spread of the virus:

  • COVID-19 refresher training
  • Increased surveillance measures, including mass screenings
  • Ongoing education and awareness initiatives
  • New on-campus curfew hours and other rules
  • Supplying additional resources to support frontline workers
  • The immediate quarantining of affected residences
  • Restrictions of on-campus academic engagements, and the
  • Intensification of consequence management efforts around non-compliance

The latter, for example, has seen 11 students sent home, 124 other cases processed and additional nine cases under investigation on both its Port Elizabeth and George campuses.

University Statistics

As of 18 November, the University had recorded 140 cases among staff, 18 of which are active cases, and 147 student cases. See staff and student portals.

Each of the affected students or staff members is placed in an appropriate venue to recover without infecting others. 

Given the concentration of numbers and the use of communal bathrooms and kitchens in student residences, the moment two or more students from the same residence test positive, the building’s occupants are placed under quarantine for ten days to help contain the spread of the virus.  At present, the University has 12 residences under quarantine in both George and Port Elizabeth.

Mass Screening

To support students in these facilities, the University has been working closely with the Department of Health to host mass screenings to quickly identify students who may have contracted the virus. They too are given the necessary support.

Healthcare Professionals

As with the medical staff elsewhere in the Metro, the University’s healthcare professionals are working in extremely trying circumstances. To support them in their efforts, the University has secured additional resources to relieve them of their administrative burdens.

COVID-19 Training

Part of their work includes COVID-19 compliance measures training. They are continuing with this, along with the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) colleagues, as it plays a critical role in improving compliance management and understanding of the processes to follow. Support Services staff who provide critical services have all undergone refresher training.  This includes guidelines on managing their safety off campus too, such as when using public transport or visiting restaurants.

Restrictions of on-campus Academic Activity

While COVID-19 compliance measures are in place to enable students to attend sanctioned on-campus engagements, these have largely been put on hold until the present surge of infections is contained.

Non-Compliance Consequence Management

Last week, the Dean of Students Luthando Jack issued a warning to all students regarding the non-compliance of COVID-19 regulations.

The warning came at the bequest of students whose own safety and ability to complete the academic year is being compromised by those who are flagrantly disobeying rules around no visiting, unauthorised gatherings, quarantine, liquor, the hosting of parties and the like.

As shared, a number of students have already been sent home for serious offences, and dozens more fined R500 or more for non-compliance of regulations.

The Memo called for “a radical shift in lifestyle” and “full commitment” to embrace changes occasioned by the pandemic because failure to do so “will take us to the brink”.

To fast-track the lifestyle changes, various new rules have been introduced, including a new curfew time of 10pm in Port Elizabeth and 6pm in George. All vehicles into residences will be searched; students who leave residences for home or to visit elsewhere will be placed on mandatory quarantine in their rooms for ten days on their return; and anyone found with liquor, drinking or partying in the residences will immediately be sent home.

Ongoing Education / Awareness Campaigns

To this end, the University is continuing with its efforts in the form the #MaskUpMandela and #ItIsInYourHands campaigns to change behaviour and save lives, along with targeted efforts to different stakeholder groups, including students.

All COVID-19 related information will continue to be regularly shared with all staff and students and translated where necessary to ensure that everyone is aware of how the pandemic is impacting on the University.

Save Lives and Save the Academic Year 

All these measures have one goal in mind – to save lives and save the academic year. Only blatant non-compliance by a selfish few may compromise this, and so the University remains committed to doing all that it can to educate, encourage and enforce efforts to this end.

Coronavirus Task Team

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