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A national state of disaster was published in Government Gazette No. 43096 on 15 March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The University, like all other institutions, has been under Lockdown alert Level 5 and Level 4.

According to the Department of Health (DoH) as of 30 May 2020, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa is 30 967, with 1 727 new cases reported from the last 24-hour testing cycle.  On 30 May, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Western Cape (the provinces with the three highest confirmed cases) accounted for 12,1%, 12,2% and 65,1% of the COVID-19 cases respectively.

With respect to the death rate tally the Eastern Cape (82) and the Western Cape (465) were by Saturday (30 May) the two provinces with the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths. The ages of 50-59 and 60-69 remain the most vulnerable groups registering death rates standing at 24,8% and 26,2% respectively.

Although staff and students of Nelson Mandela University hail from all parts of South Africa, the continent and beyond, our physical domiciles are in the cities of Port Elizabeth and George.  It should be borne in mind that Nelson Mandela Bay is one of the geographical areas declared as a COVID-19 hotspot, and that George in the Southern Cape, is in a province currently seen as the epicentre of the pandemic.

The number of infections and pandemic related deaths are still on the rise in hotspot areas, and as reported will continue to rise in the immediate future.

As we prepare for the gradual return to our campuses during the alert Level 3 of the national Lockdown, it is imperative that we remain mindful of the grim situation still facing the country, and that our campuses are domiciled in cities located in areas deemed hotspots. This is particularly important as the University has this weekend, recorded two more positive COVID-19 cases.  

Third Mandela University staff member with COVID-19

Over the weekend the University’s Occupational Health doctor received confirmation of two more positive COVID-19 results for staff members working for essential onsite services.  The staff members are currently under the care of healthcare professionals.

In line with guidelines stipulated by the DoH and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, contact tracing was immediately initiated, and those staff members identified as contacts are quarantined. Daily follow-up assessments will be ongoing for 14-days of the quarantine period.  Decontamination of the relevant workspaces and stations has been completed.

We are confident that our state of preparedness for the envisaged phased return to campus is on course.  The Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation is expected to issue regulations applicable to the sector under Level 3 of the Lockdown in the first week of June 2020.

In the meantime, members of the University community are urged to continue working remotely until advised otherwise.  In a similar vein, academic staff and students are encouraged to continue with online learning and teaching (Pathway 1). Only staff whose services have been designated as essential and critical, and who are in possession of permits issued under the applicable government regulations, are expected to be physically at the University.

The University will issue guidelines and directives on the phased return to campus during the period of alert Level 3 after, and in concert with regulations gazetted by the Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

Our thoughts and support extend to the three staff members who are receiving medical attention.  The University’s Occupational Health and Wellness teams will remain in continuous contact with the affected staff, including listed contacts, and necessary monitoring, psychosocial support, and guidance will be provided.

I wish to thank staff and students for demonstrating vigilance, resilience and patience during these trying times.

Prof Sibongile Muthwa

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777