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There has been a notable rise in the number of COVID-19 cases nationally, provincially and within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where the bulk of our University campuses are located.

There have also been concerns around cluster outbreaks, including at higher education institutions, with reports of rising numbers in student infections among Eastern Cape universities.

Nelson Mandela University has not been immune to these developments, which point to a resurgence and second wave of the pandemic.

It is therefore with great concern that, after about eight weeks of no reported COVID-19 cases at the University, the institution has seen a number of positive cases reported in the last four weeks.

Towards the end of September 2020, when the country moved to lockdown Alert Level 1, the University began recording a number of cases, with an upsurge noted in the last two weeks, particularly among students currently back on campus.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 positive cases among students to date is 33, with 14 active cases at present. For staff, the total number to date is 80, with three active cases currently.

The 14 affected students, who are all based at Port Elizabeth campuses, are presently isolating and receiving the necessary care and support. Identified contacts are under quarantine at University-commissioned sites and are being closely monitored by institutional healthcare services.

Cluster Outbreaks

The University has developed a comprehensive cluster management system, aimed at quickly identifying any potential for outbreak and proactively working to mitigate this as far as possible.

A cluster, in this context, refers to two people who are confirmed or suspected to be COVID-19 positive; identified within seven days of each other, in the same class or lecture hall, residence, student group, or between individuals working in the same area on a campus.

To this end, given that some of the reported cases are of students staying at on-campus and accredited off-campus University residences, a decision was taken to place some of the affected residences under ”pragmatic quarantine”.

As a result, seven residences are under such quarantine, seeing students mainly confined to their rooms, with controlled movement to access ablutions and cooking facilities.

Screening continues at stations across campuses, with door-to-door mass screening recently introduced as a response to the increased mobility under Level 1.

Concerning Student Behaviour

There is major concern over the conduct of some students, whose behaviour goes against COVID-19 compliance. Among the key drivers of the rise in infections, as observed, is a disregard for regulations relating to wearing of masks and maintaining social and physical distancing.

In a bid to address this, students have been asked to abstain from all face-to-face social and non-academic gatherings. This is for their individual safety as well as those with whom they come into contact.

Mitigating Measures

The University has put numerous safety measures in place towards the prevention, monitoring and containment of the virus, also offering a suite of psychosocial support throughout the lockdown period.

Various education and awareness campaigns, aimed at encouraging behavioural change to align with the new normal brought on by pandemic, have been shared on all institutional communication platforms.

The safety of staff and students remains the University’s top priority as it seeks to successfully complete the academic year, in a safe and secure environment.

While the country is in the more relaxed lockdown Alert Level 1, the virus is still with us. It is incumbent on all within the Mandela University community to carry out their individual responsibilities in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777