Plan of Action for COVID-19 (2020)

Getting Nelson Mandela University ready for COVID-19

In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in Hubei Province, China to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO stated there is a high risk of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading to other countries around the world.

WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, long term success cannot be taken for granted. All sections of our society – including businesses and employers – must play a role if we are to stop the spread of this disease.

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects - such as desks, tables or telephones.

People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.

In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover.

However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care.

Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40.

People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.

Making sure our workplaces and study areas are clean and hygienic

  • Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) will be wiped with disinfectant regularly
  • Why? Because contamination on surfaces touched by employees, students and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads

Promoting regular and thorough hand-washing by staff, students and visitors

  • Putting sanitising hand rub dispensers at strategic places and making sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
  • Displaying posters promoting hand-washing and combining this with other communication measures
  • Making sure that staff, students and visitors have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
  • Why? Because washing kills the virus on your hands and prevents the spread of COVID19

Promoting good respiratory hygiene in the workplace

  • Displaying posters promoting respiratory hygiene and combining with other communications
  • Ensuring that face masks and / or paper tissues are available on campus for those who develop a runny nose or cough at work, along with closed bins for hygienically disposing of them
  • Why? Because good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of COVID-19

Briefing our staff, students and visitors that if COVID-19 starts spreading

  • Anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection.
  • Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Displaying posters with this message in our work and study places, combining this with other communication channels commonly used at our University.
  • Continually developing campaign material by health stakeholders to promote this message.
  • NOTE: time off from work or studies, will count as sick leave.

Current plan if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at the University

  • Employees and students with signs and symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection will contact the University’s Hotline on 0800 505 911 or on the national hotlines: 0800 111 132 and 0800 029 999. 
  • The possible COVID-19 infected person will be isolated in a room / separate area, away from others in the University, limiting contact with others.
  • The identified possible infected persons will be supported, without inviting stigma and discrimination. This could include persons who have recently travelled to an area reporting cases, or other persons who have chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart and lung disease, old age, HIV, etc.) that put them at higher risk of infection.
  • The University’s healthcare providers will liaise with the local healthcare authorities for referral according to the South African Department of Health’s National Guidelines.
  • The contacts of the identified possible infected person will be managed according to the South African Department of Health’s National Guidelines
  • The University’s Case Management for COVID-19 and Constancy Plan may include Standard Operating Procedures in the following areas: Health Services, Students, Academics, Professional & Support Staff