Message from the VC on coronavirus: UP taking proactive steps with action plan

Posted on February 28, 2020


Dear members of the UP Community


The University of Pretoria is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. While South Africa is seen as a relatively low-risk area that has to date had no reported cases of the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the outbreak has now become a public health emergency of international concern. The safety and well-being of our students and staff are paramount, and we are taking proactive steps to help ensure that we have a plan of action in place to address a possible outbreak on campus.  We have established a task team to assist with the implementation of our plan of action.


We are working closely with health experts and the relevant authorities, including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), to prepare for any possible outbreaks. We also have nursing staff and experts on standby in our Student Health Services to assist with initial diagnoses.


To minimise the spread of the virus, the University is taking proactive steps to provide protection and assistance.  We have drawn up a plan and have put the necessary preventative measures in place.


•            Experts  have been put on alert, and dedicated staff will take responsibility for the initial diagnosis of possible infections.

•            We will strictly follow the evolving case definition as supplied by the NICD and the WHO, whereafter an interview with the student or staff member who presents with the symptoms must be conducted.

•            Specific guidelines have been developed for the procedures to be followed within UP residences and will be managed by the Director for Residences.


Students and staff are reminded that while there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, there are preventative steps that can be taken to avoid contracting the virus:


•            Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

•            Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

•            Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•            Stay at home when you are sick and immediately call a medical professional.

•            Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.

•            Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


How do you know if you have COVID-19?


•            You will experience a sudden onset of fever (38 degrees and above)

•            In addition, you will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

-       Fever

-       Cough

-       Difficulty breathing


All staff and students of the University who intend travelling abroad are requested to inform their Heads of Department of their itineraries and to ensure that they take every possible precaution to avoid exposure to infection. If at any stage any member of the University suspects that they may have been exposed, or feels ill, they are advised to isolate themselves and to contact a  medical doctor or the 24-hour Operational Management and Crisis Centre on 0800 0064 28 or 012 420 2310 before going to medical centres. 


To read more about COVID-19 and for regular status updates, please visit:

•       World Health Organisation.

•       National Institute for Communicable Disease



Kind regards


Prof Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Pretoria

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