On 15 March, It was confirmed by the Department of Institutional Advancement at UP that “at this stage no decision has been made yet [regarding the closing of the university] and executives are still engaging with experts on the matter.” It is confirmed that there will be an update after the executive of UP have met on the morning of 16 March with regard to the President’s address.  Furthermore it was highlighted that “Management will take decisions that safe guard health, reduce risk to infection and enable continued access to education.” As per communication received via Clickup, certain modules at the University of Pretoria (UP) have been cancelled by some lecturers.

David Kabwa, SRC President, has issued a statement assuring students that “The UP SRC has heard the concerns of the students in relation to the growing national issue pertaining to COVID-19”. He stated that the UP SRC will be engaging with the University Executive to plot the way forward. He ascertained that “Student’s well-being will remain our first priority” and reminded students that precautions have already been outlined. Kabwa confirmed that he will be providing an update during the course of 16 March. With regard to the cancellation of student forum, Kabwa stated that the SRC is having numerous engagements and will evaluate the forum amongst other events. He assures the UP student sphere that “We are in this together” and reminds that “It is important that we do not panic in the meantime”.

Furthermore, the confirmed case of a Wits student was acknowledged by President Cyril Ramaphosa and he confirmed that all individuals who had been in contact with the person will be quarantined. Universities are under review and further measures are to be announced soon. As of the date of publication of the article, The University of Johannesburg (UJ), has cancelled all classes and graduations until further notice. The University of Cape Town (UCT)’s Student Representative Council has issued a statement calling for the cancellation of classes and requested for “a sustainable method of blended learning is to be implemented as soon as possible”.UCT has since announced that the holiday recess has been moved earlier and that the university it closed. UCT residences have to be evacuated within 72 hours. The University of Witwaterand (Wits) has cancelled all contact classes in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Management will take decisions that safe guard health, reduce risk to infection and enable continued access to education.”

At 19:40, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on COVID-19 and what South Africa plans to do in the wake of the pandemic. Ramaphosa ascertained that “The world is facing a medical emergency far graver than what experienced in over a century”.

Given the scale and rapidity at which the virus is spreading, South Africa has put measures in place to screen visitors coming into the country.

President Ramaphosa confirmed that as of 15 March the number of cases have totaled to 61 but cautioned that the number is likely to rise now that community transmission has been confirmed in South Africa. In response to the increasing number of cases, President Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and stated that “current circumstances require extraordinary measures”.

The cabinet has decided to cancel visas from countries declared as hotspots for COVID-19, and enforce travel bans on foreign nationals from high risk countries including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Spain, the USA, the UK and China. President Ramaphosa confirmed that visa issuing to visitors from high risk countries would be cancelled and previously granted visas would be revoked. He assured that that the government will continue to periodically issue travel alerts that refer to specific cities as the potential for high risk evolves. Furthermore, he urged citizens to refrain from travel to high risk countries such as Spain, The UK, the USA, Italy, Iran, China and South Korea and it was revealed that screening and testing measures at airports are to be strengthened. South Africa citizens and travellers from medium risk countries will be subject to high intensity screening and self-isolation and he called for travellers who had entered South Africa from high risk countries to present themselves for testing. As of 16 March, 35 land ports and 2 sea ports have closed.

In outlining social distancing measures, President Ramaphosa ascertained in his address that gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited, celebrations of large national days will be cancelled and schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March until after the Easter weekend. He also advised against religious, political, cultural or economic gatherings. In situations where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers were instructed to instill stringent measures of prevention and control.

“The world is facing a medical emergency far graver than what experienced in over a century”.

President Ramaphosa called for the heightening of hygiene measures across large public spaces like malls while visits to all correctional centers are suspended for 30 days with immediate effect. President Ramaphosa stated that the government is currently working with colleges, universities and other public spheres to intensify the level of hygiene control. Precautionary measure were also highlighted in President Ramaphosa’s speech where he called for the regular washing of hands, coughing into a flexed elbow and distancing from people who show cold and flu-like symptoms.

Furthermore, President Ramaphosa revealed the establishment of a national command council that will meet three times a week to coordinate all aspects of the emergency response.

He warned the public that “we cannot be overwhelmed by the fear and panic” and called for the end to fake news spreading. Ramaphosa assured the citizens of South Africa that “we have the expertise, means and knowledge to fight the disease”. He ascertained that “if we act together, if we act now and if we act decisively, we can overcome this”.

All press releases and updated cases can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website www.sacoronavirus.co.za. Citizens are also encouraged to make use of the whatsapp messaging service on +27600123456 by messaging “Hi” which will enable the necessary information to be relayed.

Follow @PDBYMedia on Instagram and Twitter and check pdby.co.za to receive the latest information regarding UP updates and COVID-19.

Visual by: Tacita Black

SUSANNA ANBU