Mitigation strategies to manage present spike in infections


The spike in COVID-19 infections among both staff and students at Nelson Mandela University, and the country in recent weeks, is concerning and could become a growing challenge if not pro-actively managed. 

Just as there was an increase in cases when staff and students first began returning to campus in May under level 3, so there has been a noticeable jump in the infection rate under the less restrictive Alert Level 1 as increasing numbers of staff and students returned to campus from late September. 

Staff and Student Figures 

As of today, there are 11 active staff cases, bringing the total number of staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 since May to 91. Sadly, we have lost five staff members to the virus. There are 23 active student cases, of the 46 who have contracted COVID-19 to date. In addition, there are many others who are presently isolating or who are under quarantine to help prevent any further spread of the virus as they monitor their own wellbeing. 

For a full breakdown of these figures go to the staff portal or the student portal.  

Mitigation Strategies 

To this end, in managing the various clusters and outbreaks (clusters - two or more cases from the same area or residence but different sources; outbreaks – two or more cases from the same source) and acknowledging the fears of staff and students around the present resurgence, various mitigation strategies are being implemented. 

However, as has been consistently communicated, the fight against the coronavirus is in our hands. Each of us has the ability to help contain the spread of the virus by simply adhering to the COVID-19 prevention measures and following new University protocols. 

These simple behavioural changes on and off campus can save lives and enable our ability to save the academic year. 

University Management alone cannot stop the spread of the virus. It requires an integrated approach in which everyone conforms and takes personal agency and accountability for their safety.  

Failure to comply to COVID-19 behavioural practices could eventually lead to closure of the University and worse still, the further loss of lives.    


  1. From the outset, the principle is that where possible, staff and students should continue to work and study remotely. In addition, rotation and flexible hours should be considered as options to enable easier management of those on campus. 
  2. Similarly, face-to-face lectures and other in-person sessions should be kept to a minimum. When such engagement is necessary, then all the COVID-19 health regulations must be implemented, including screening, and attendance details captured per venue. 
  3. All student activities that fall outside of sanctioned on-campus academic have been suspended. 

In addition, the following new mitigation strategies are in place: 

  • Increased security patrols, especially of sports facilities and other open spaces, to prevent any group activities or any crowding that contravenes COVID-19 regulations.   
  • Residence Management to continue enforcing all the new ways of living as per the new Standard Operating Procedures.  
  • Mass screening in each residence on and off campus is ongoing  
  • Each department must ensure that access of all persons to their respective rooms/lecture rooms/facilities is recorded 
  • All buildings are now limited to one entrance / exit  
  • Students bodies to assist in ensuring compliance by students 
  • All quarantined facilities will be closely monitored to ensure compliance 

Managing Anxieties 

The University recognises the increased levels of anxiety of both staff and students as South Africa braces for a second surge of infections, especially among those who are working on campus. Please continue to make use of the services offered by Wellness@Work and Emthonjeni Student Services. 

Our Occupational Health and Student Health Services teams are working around the clock to ensure that the virus is contained and that those infected or affected as “contacts” receive the requisite support.  

Together We Can 

But also working exceptionally hard are our cleaner and caterers, the SHE team, our residence managers, our ICT Services team, our academics and so many others, all of whom are committed to ensuring that our students are able to complete the 2020 academic year. 

We have made excellent progress to date.  More than 82% of our student body have completed the first semester in very trying circumstances and are continuing to do well in the second semester. 

Let’s ensure that we do all that we can in our own areas of influence to ensure that all the good work to date is not lost through the unnecessary closure of the University because of non-compliance and the resultant inability to contain the virus. 

It is in your hands! 

Coronavirus Task Team