South Africa

Concern over Covid-19 surge at universities

Cape Town - Stakeholders at tertiary institutions have been urged to observe health and safety protocols, especially the students, to ensure there was 100% wearing of masks and that they did not gather in large groups.

This comes in the wake of an outbreak at the University of Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu University in East London.

"We recognise that the virus is not gone. It is with us," acting university education deputy director general Diane Parker said on Friday.

Parker was speaking at the higher education portfolio committee meeting.

Minister Blade Nzimande noted that all institutions were back with students and staff full steam.

"Having reached the level which allowed us to admit the last group, we must be careful not to lower the guard. Already I will receive what seems to be an outbreak of the virus at University of Fort Hare," Nzimande said.

Parker said 125 students tested positive and that further reports were awaited from the institution.

"We keep in touch with higher education to manage the situation and quarantine and isolation sites to limit the spread," she said.

She also said there were reports of infections at Walter Sisulu University.

Professor Ahmed Bawa, CEO of Universities South Africa, said the work that needed to be done to make campuses safer was on behaviour change.

"It does not matter how safe campuses are, if students and staff are not taking necessary precautions to behave and prevent from engaging in risky behaviour, that is a challenge.

"It is a national challenge. There is a need for all of us to address the issues around behaviour," Bawa said

Political Bureau

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