COVID-19 update: Pro-active interventions to address spike in infections


Additional COVID-19 testing of students, following a 24-hour spike in infections on Tuesday, was undertaken by the Department of Health (DoH) yesterday to ascertain the extent of the spread of the coronavirus and to support anxious students.

COVID-19 testing

The rapid response testing in partnership with the DoH, along with the call to temporarily stop mask-to-mask classes until at least Friday (11 June) and thereby actively reduce large on-campus gatherings, is part of the University’s pro-active strategy to contain the present cluster outbreaks.

Improved entrance screening and other measures

In addition, the University is committed to improving its COVID-19 entrance screening checks and to providing extra support in its general computer labs to ensure adherence of all coronavirus protocols.

Various buildings may also be temporarily closed to counter the possibility of large gatherings of people.

Yesterday’s call to temporarily halt in-person academic activities (with some rare exceptions as approved by the Deans in consultation with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching) and to rapidly transfer mask-to-mask assessments to online or postpone these until the University has greater clarity on the extent of the infections, follows the confirmation of 10 new student cases in one day.  

An additional six cases, mainly from the same residence, were recorded overnight.

Quarantine measures

All these students are in quarantine, and since two are also from the same class, which had held mask-to-mask activities, their entire class has also been placed under quarantine.

For the students’ own safety and that of others, they will isolate in their rooms for ten days, monitoring themselves for symptoms. Such is the complicated nature of the virus, however, some of students who recently tested positive for COVID-19 were, and are, asymptomatic. In other words, they have none of the usual COVID-19 symptoms.

The University’s Student Health Services is in contact with all affected parties daily, especially given the obvious anxieties.

Swift follow-up tracing

Contact tracing is also well underway to ensure that those with whom the above students have had close contact (more than 15 minutes together within two metres of each other without masks) go into isolation for ten days.

Online learning and support – general computer labs

While mask-to-mask activities (lectures, experiential learning and tests) will be greatly reduced, online learning and assessments will continue. Students who do not have their own devices will be able to use the University’s general computer labs, as well as specialised computer labs in academic departments.

To ensure that all safety protocols in the computer labs are observed, please take note of the following:

  • Students must book their sessions in advance on
  • Strict application and monitoring of safety protocols will apply
  • It is recommended that students accessing the labs consider double-masking
  • That the present 50 percent capacity, is reduced to 35% - 40%
  • That lab assistants will increase spot-checks to ensure that all protocols are being followed
  • That screening is undertaken before students enter the labs

Ongoing activities

For the remainder of this week, operational activities, services and consultancy to the broader public can continue but it is important that we each remain hyper-vigilant.

Report non-compliance

This simply means practising all prevention measures – wearing masks, practising good health hygiene and avoiding large gatherings. You are also encouraged to guide others and if necessary, report non-compliance of protocols to so that together  we are able to stop the spread of the virus on our Gqeberha campuses.

Coronavirus Task Team

Learning and Teaching and Health Workstreams