Nearly 200 students have tested positive for Covid-19 at KZN tertiary institutions. Picture: Jacques Naude
Nearly 200 students have tested positive for Covid-19 at KZN tertiary institutions. Picture: Jacques Naude

Nearly 200 KZN students test positive for Covid-19

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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Durban - Close to 200 students and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in different universities in KwaZulu-Natal since the country entered level 3 lockdown.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) said it has recorded 88 confirmed cases. This includes all reported cases of staff and students who are studying and working from home.

Normah Zondo, acting executive director for UKZN’s corporate relations division, said out of the 88 reported cases, 49 staff and 39 students tested positive.

“The university has had confirmed reports of staff and students who sadly succumbed to Covid-19,” she said.

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has 74 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 39 staff testing positive and 35 students.

DUT’s senior director of corporate affairs Alan Khan, said it recorded 13 recoveries of nine students and four staff, and one death.

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) media liaison officer Bheki Hlophe said there were 17 cases of staff testing positive and three students since the university reopened. He said that in each of these cases individuals who tested positive self-isolated until they had recovered.

Hlophe said contact tracing was conducted to identify individuals that they had come into contact with within the university.

“The university has also been hard at work decontaminating workspaces used by individuals who tested positive,” said Hlophe.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced in May that only 33% of students would be allowed to return to campuses under level 3 of the lockdown in June.

UKZN’s Zondo said in keeping with regulations under level 3, about 8650 students were expected to return to campus. She said the university can only admit more students once the lockdown level changes to 2.

“The university has very strict regulations and requirements to prevent spread of infections. Access to campuses is restricted and controlled, and only people with a valid permit and results of self-screening can enter.”

Zondo said movement of students on campuses were monitored and all students were screened before entering campuses and residences. A curfew was in place to restrict movement from 6pm to 6am.

Khan said influencing everybody to maintain physical distancing guidelines had been a challenge. However, the vast majority of staff, students and visitors were following the guidelines of wearing a mask, washing and sanitising hands and not gathering in groups.

He said the university was preparing to allow more students back to campus and residences.

“We reiterate that while we have had a number of staff and students test positive over the last few weeks, our response teams have been successfully managing the situation.”

He said contact tracing was ongoing and campuses were being cleaned twice a day and sanitised regularly.

MUT said it had taken all the necessary precautions and health protocols to ensure that students come back to a safe campus.

Hlophe said it was ready to welcome more students should the Department of Higher Education and Training decide to allow them back to campus.

“Staff and students are screened at the gate every morning to ensure that those with an abnormal temperature and those that suspect they have been compromised do not access campus.”

He said those without a mask were also not allowed on campus.

The Mercury

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