Change the world


The number of confirmed novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in South Africa continues to rise, with the latest figures from Government showing that the country presently stands at 116 infections. This figure is up from 85, as at yesterday (17 March 2020).

The confirmed cases were initially of people who had travelled from affected areas abroad, but there has been an increase in the number of local transmissions, which presently stand at 14.

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared a National Disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, 15 March 2020.  This effectively changes the manner in which decisions are made and implemented in an effort to aggressively fight the spread of the virus.

Given the aggressive nature of the virus and its spread, efforts towards its surveillance, prevention and management are becoming increasingly urgent.  In this highly volatile time, where nations are grappling with how best to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to acknowledge the challenges faced in the world and South Africa, in particular, in effectively containing the virus.

The health and well-being of our students and staff remains our priority.  As such the University is implementing its COVID-19 response, with a lot of thought having gone into the implications of every decision.

On Monday, 16 March 2020, following last week’s deliberations, the University announced a number of campus-specific decisions flowing from President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday night. These included the suspension of academic activities, the cancellation of events or gatherings on campus, the postponement of autumn graduation and a temporary ban on international travel and visits.

As more people from various corners heed Government’s call to ensure social distancing, by practicing good health and hygiene and not holding gatherings of more than 100 people.  The University is gravitating towards limiting the number of people physically on campus. This will go a long way towards ensuring that we limit the spread of the virus.

As the University moves towards a work regime that revolves around critical services required for its continuous functioning and the subsequent resumption of operations on 15 April 2020.  Line Managers are required to identify critical and non-critical services and advise on work-from-home arrangements where this is practicable as operations continue.

Students and staff staying at on-campus and accredited off-campus residences are identified among the most vulnerable with regards to the Coronavirus outbreak.

In keeping with the measures recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the University is intensifying the sanitation of its residences and moving to reduce numbers therein.

To this end, residence students are to vacate both on and accredited off-campus residences by Friday, 20 March 2020.

The Dean of Students has established a Rapid Response Team, which includes members of the Student Representative Council (SRC), to oversee this process and manage any implementation challenges that may arise.

Learning and Teaching:
As communicated yesterday, the University is in recess until 15 April 2020. This means that the decision to commence learning and teaching on digital and alternative platforms from 30 March 2020 no longer applies.

Academics will now use this period to assess the situation and prepare a plan on when and how learning and teaching will resume and what the implications for the academic calendar are. Communication with students and the academic community in this regard will be provided.

Please note that all libraries are closed for this period.

The rapid spread of the virus in the country since Government’s announcement of the first confirmed case about two weeks ago is cause for concern. The University is doing its utmost in terms of its efforts to prevent the possible spread of the virus on campus.

As we continue to monitor the situation, it is important to acknowledge that all these measures may change given the fluidity of circumstances.

We cannot stress enough how critical it is for each one of us to take the necessary precautions in an effort to remain free from the virus.

Updates on developments in this regard will be communicated in due course.

Prof Sibongile Muthwa

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777