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UCT staff member tests positive for coronavirus, major universities close

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng said the staff member was in isolation at home.
Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng said the staff member was in isolation at home.
Image: UCT Student @UCTStudent via Twitter

A University of Cape Town staff member has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the institution has announced.

Vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said the staff member was in isolation at home.

Phakeng said the provincial department of health had begun the tracing process and was in contact with those who were in close contact with the member.

“Members of the university community who are well and have been in close contact with the staff member have been instructed to remain in quarantine for 14 days while being monitored for symptoms.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on March 15 2020. This comes after the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus reached 61.

The university announced that it would shut down all residences with immediate effect. It said students must vacate residences within the next 72 hours.

It said the start of term 2 would be announced later.

A medical student at the University of Witwatersrand has also tested positive for the coronavirus, the institution said on Sunday.

The university encouraged 350 of its medical students to undergo self quarantine.

University spokesperson Shirona Patel said all contact classes, tests and face-to-face interactions had been cancelled for Monday. Students in residences were asked to remain in rooms. Employees would be required to report to work, but to take precautions.

All travel was suspended and graduations postponed.

Teaching and learning activities, including tests, have also been postponed at various institutions across the country, including the universities of Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal.

In contrast, the Nelson Mandela University said its “classes, tests, laboratory sessions, practicals and experiential learning activities will continue as normal”.

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