It is suspected that the infections started after social contact at a venue frequented by students off campus – spokesperson
THE UNIVERSITY of Pretoria is on high alert after more than 100 students tested positive for Covid-19 after attending an off-campus event.
The positive students have been placed in isolation at their homes or facilities approved by the Department of Health, the university said. Contact tracing continues.
They are not isolated in any of the University of Pretoria’s residences.
Initial reports indicated that 55 students from the university tested positive after the March 19 outing, prompting the institution to take immediate action to minimise the risk of exposure of members of the university, spokesperson Rikus Delport said.
“A number of students at a few residences tested positive, and the university took immediate action to manage the situation and facilitate full sanitisation of all communal areas as well as the areas specifically occupied by the affected students.
“It is suspected that the first infection arose after social contact at a venue frequented by students outside of campus. We remind students again of the importance of adhering to all the Covid-19 protocols as set out on the University of Pretoria website.
“The success of the protocols in protecting the health and safety of our university community is dependent upon each and every one of us accepting the responsibility to protect ourselves and others through strict compliance,” Delport said.
All relevant authorities were notified, and the university was working closely with them to implement all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Delport said: “The university treats the health and safety of its students and staff as a priority, and has developed and implemented health and safety protocols to minimise the risk of exposure of members of our community to the virus.”
All in-residence social activities have been put on hold and members of the university’s community were encouraged to exercise extreme caution in social contexts off campus, where the applicable protocols in place may be less rigorous or less rigorously enforced than those applied by the university.
The Department of Health set up a screening and testing facility to test students who were close contacts of the affected students and those who may have had some contact or were symptomatic.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande has appealed to students, lecturers and all staff in institutions of higher learning to remain vigilant and adhere to Covid-19 regulations and protocols and guidelines.
Nzimande said the outbreaks across some of their institutions was extremely worrying.
“While Covid-19 has largely been detrimental for the older population groups, the virus is mutating and new variants are showing a higher affinity towards young people, who can serve as carriers and hasten the spread of infection.
“Unfortunately, that would fire up the third wave,” said Nzimande.
They were aggressively working on contact tracing with the help of the Department of Health over the University of Pretoria outbreak, and had tested and screened a large number of students and staff over the past few days.
“Fast testing results, early isolations, and moving to quarantine facilities have helped us so far to contain outbreaks.
“Further, the Department of Health and Higher Health have developed screening stations around the affected residences, mobile unit, institutional campus clinic, occupational health; employee wellness teams are also stationed, offering psycho-social and other health and wellness assistance to the affected residents,” Nzimande said.