The University of Pretoria (UP) has announced that they are closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and that they are working closely with health experts and the relevant authorities to prepare for any possible outbreaks on campus.

The disease was declared a pandemic this week by the World Health Organisation (WHO). There are currently 24 confirmed cases in South Africa, as of 13 March. UP has stated that they have nursing staff and experts on standby via the Student Health Services to assist with initial diagnosis. UP is currently busy finalising their preparation to take learning online, should it be required but as it stands on 13 March, all university programmes and events will continue as scheduled. UP has stated that in light of this they will be: placing hygiene information, as well as antibacterial hand santisers, on all of their campus premises; offering health and psychological support through the university’s counseling services; providing periodic updates to the UP community through online communication and face-to-face sessions with staff and class representatives; preparing and finalising a learning continuity plan through online channels; reducing trips to affected areas and working closely with the UP community to discourage trips to those areas.

If at any stage any member of the university suspects that they may have been exposed and feels ill, they are advised to isolate themselves and to contact a medical doctor or the 24-hour UP Operational Management and Crisis Centre on 0800-0064-28 or 012-420-2310, or the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on 0800-029-999, before going to medical centers.

DANI VAN DER HORST