What Rhodes University is doing

The Rhodes University Coronavirus Response Task Team can be contacted on cvrtt@ru.ac.za.

For a brief compilation of suggestions that might help you better manage your mood and anxiety over the lockdown period (or help prevent these from worsening), please CLICK HERE. You can also apply for online therapy, via the Psychology Clinic, by filling in an application form at https://www.ru.ac.za/psychology/psychologyclinic/#d.en.173753

To view video live recordings of the two SMASH (Student Mental, Academic, & Social Health) Zoom sessions  (zero-rated viewing on RUConnected), please view here.

Kindly note that the Daily Self-Assessment Screening Questionnaire, the Initial Risk Assessment, RU Access Control Protocol and the RU Health and Safety Protocol can be found on the HR website at https://www.ru.ac.za/humanresources/ under Useful Information on COVID-19.

Below are the latest pertinent updates. For all full updates & communiques, please scroll further down the page. 

 

EXCERPT: VC UPDATE OF 13 JUNE 2020, REGARDING PHASED RETURN TO CAMPUS*

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives in ways no one could have imagined a short five months ago. Many of us have adjusted to this as our temporary new ‘normal’ and are ensuring that our daily business processes continue with as little disruption as possible. However, for many people these conditions are hard to comprehend.

Measures are underway to implement a gradual, phased and risk-controlled return of students to campus, in line with the directives of the Department of Higher Education & Training. On 31 May 2020 we shared with you a comprehensive plan for a phased return of students to our campus. The first group has since been issued with University permits to ensure their safe return to campus. Under no circumstances should you come back to Makhanda or campus if you have not been issued a University permit.

READ MORE

*Please see Framework for the management of the return of students (Health & Safety).

 

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE TASK TEAM 

Rhodes University’s Coronavirus Response Task Team (CVRTT) was formed to address the challenges that might arise should there be a suspected or confirmed case at Rhodes University and to develop and implement an action plan to respond to the risks of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

We are taking steps to ensure every possible challenge is being addressed. We are actively and closely monitoring the situation and making appropriate arrangements to mitigate its impact on the health, welfare and safety of our students and staff.

Regular information will be shared with the community as the situation continues to change and develop. The current situation in respect of Covid-19 is extremely fluid and changes daily. Please be alert to any updates distributed by the University.

The Task Team can be contacted on cvrtt@ru.ac.za.

 

SUSPECTED CASES 

  • The Rhodes University Health Care Centre has been identified as the first port of call for suspected cases.
  • It is advised that those who suspect they may be infected first call the Centre and ask them how to proceed. This will allow the health care workers to prepare.
  • The Health Care Centre’s phone number is 046 603 8523.
  • After hours, please contact ER24 on 010 205 3068.
  • Please refer to the Coronavirus Protocol for steps that need to be taken and preventative measures.
  • In the case of suspected cases with mild illness, a transit housing facility will be made available for isolation.
  • The Eastern Cape Provincial Health Department has designated Livingstone Hospital as the regional quarantine facility for seriously ill Covid-19 patients.

 

EVENTS ON CAMPUS, CROWDING & SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • All events which will involve significant numbers of people from outside of Makhanda/Grahamstown and its immediate surrounds, which were to have taken place on the Rhodes University campus are either cancelled, postponed, or converted to an online event
  • Where the organisers of events are unsure of whether they should proceed, they may contact the Coronavirus Response Task Team (CVRTT) on cvrtt@ru.ac.za.
  • The Graduation Ceremonies which had been scheduled for the period 2–4 April 2020 have been postponed until further notice.
  • Staff and students are advised to avoid crowded areas which could potentially spread the disease.

 

CLEANLINESS & HYGIENE

  • Staff and students are urged to educate themselves about the hygiene practices to follow to avoid infection. The simplest and most effective method is to wash hands thoroughly with soap (for 20 seconds) and rinse with water.
  • A water task team has been formed to develop a short-, medium-, and long-term plan and strategies to mitigate the impact of water shortages on the University, especially in the context of a possible outbreak of the coronavirus.
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed at strategic points across the campus, and all are encouraged to use them responsibly, cognisant of the fact that the ongoing supply of hand sanitiser has become very limited. Please see: Sanitiser Locations.
  • The University’s gym and indoor exercising areas will be closed with immediate effect. People are encouraged to keep healthy by engaging in alternative forms of exercising outside.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

  • The task team is in regular contact with the Provincial Department of Health.
  • Regular communications will be issued to the University informing the community of any changes.
  • Awareness-raising campaigns are currently being rolled-out.

 

Link to official protocol (what to do in the event of a suspected case): Coronavirus Protocol
 
 
USEFUL DOCUMENTATION FOR STAFF
 
ACADEMIC CALENDAR
 
GENERAL INFORMATION & SOURCES

Today marks day 79 of the national Covid-19 lockdown, although under eased conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives in ways no one could have imagined a short five months ago. Many of us have adjusted to this as our temporary new ‘normal’ and are ensuring that our daily business processes continue with as little disruption as possible. However, for many people these conditions are hard to comprehend.
Read More
On 23 May 2020, the Minister of Higher Education, Science & Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, laid out a set of criteria for the return of students to universities according to the declared risk-adjusted alert levels. The Ministry’s framing theme in providing guidance for the post-school in these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic is #SaveLives, #SaveTheAcademicYear.
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Although the concept of remote teaching at Rhodes University is not new, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought this form of teaching and learning into focus.
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Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, today expressed 'deep gratitude’ to the institution’s donors who have been providing raw materials for the sanitiser production initiative.
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Today is the 49th day of the nationwide lockdown. For many, this has been a very difficult time. Adjusting to the changed circumstances has taken its toll. Projections are that the virus will be with us for a considerable period of time. Thank you for your role in helping curb the transmission of the virus and, in the process, saving lives.
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The purpose of this email is to give staff an update with regards to essential or permitted services staff in the workplace. I would like to say thank-you to all the staff who worked so hard last week, your efforts and commitment are appreciated.
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We have been compelled to transition from face-to-face teaching and learning to online/remote teaching and learning, not only to save the academic year 2020, but most importantly to ensure that our students are able to continue with their education; to ensure the sustainability of the University; and make sure that students and staff are not exposed to the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
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Professor Steve Olivier, who started as a student at Rhodes University in 1981, has accepted the appointment of Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland. He accepts this responsibility despite the global Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges it poses to higher education.
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We would like to thank all of you for your patience whilst we worked tirelessly to explore various forms of remote/online teaching and learning to ensure that the academic project continues during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic. We thank all staff who have been at the forefront of planning for remote/online teaching and learning. We also thank all essential services staff who have been at work for the past six weeks. We are pleased to share the progress we have made to date.
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Two eminent Rhodes University academics, Professors Rosemary Dorrington and Rod Walker have joined a team of experts assembled by Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane and assigned by the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to shore up efforts to curb Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape Province.
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Rhodes University has entered into agreements with the mobile carriers Vodacom, MTN and Cell C to provide data bundles for our students who are clients of those carriers. Engagements are also underway with Telkom Mobile around a similar agreement.
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Rhodes University Dean of Pharmacy, Professor Sandile Khamanga, recently received a delegation of scientific technicians from the Dohne Agricultural Development Institute in Stutterheim for training in sanitiser production.
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Celebrating Freedom Day under lockdown feels like a contradiction however the rain is most welcome. We see South Africans rise to the challenge and Celebrate Freedom Day by enhancing the lives of those that are less fortunate around them. There is no better way to celebrate and honour Freedom Day than to live respectfully, with compassion and kindness to those around you.
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Our preparations to migrate to remote/online teaching and learning delivery are moving ahead. The Orientation Programme has gone well and some of the teething challenges are being attended to. The Orientation Programme will continue for the whole of next week.
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This plan emanates from intense engagement with, amongst others, the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Registrar and Faculty Deans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also shared with the Student Representative Council.
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On 13 April I wrote a letter to you indicating, among other things, that, in line with other universities, we would migrate to alternative forms of teaching and learning in order to ensure successful completion of the 2020 Academic Year. I also indicated that, underpinning our approach to remote/online teaching and learning will be principles of social justice and of ensuring that no student will be left behind on account of lack of an appropriate device or access to connectivity.
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Several Rhodes University academics recently assisted the Department of Health during its mobile Covid-19 screening drive in Makhanda.
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Rhodes University has turned to its alumni, business and members of the public for help to mobilise resources to ensure successful completion of the 2020 academic year.
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In the past few weeks you have received several communications as we work to address the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this is exploring alternative forms of teaching and learning, including online teaching and learning commencing 20 April.
Read More
The purpose of this email is to remind staff of the wellness interventions that are in place for staff during lockdown as well as where to find up to date information as it pertains to COVID-19 and what the University has put in place.
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Useful Information

NOTE: Click on the 'Map' tab to see the visual global map. 

 

Useful facts about SA's Covid-19

 

Ensuring community safety

 

7 tips to reduce risk of coronavirus

 
From National Institute for Communicable Diseases (local)
Top tips for preventing the coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4TVCc80xZ0
 

From WHO Africa:

7 tips to reduce risk of coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6xYL3VdYG0
Seven tips for protecting against the coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzT_rHOX5Ow
 
From WHO International:
How to protect yourself against COVID-19: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1APwq1df6Mw
When and how to wear medical masks to protect against the new coronavirus? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4olt47pr_o
 
From John Hopkins (international)
What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHP0UIdZyI4
 
 
 

FAQs from WHO

 

Q: What is a coronavirus?

A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

 

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

 

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

 

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?

A: People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

 

Q: Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

A: The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. 

 

Q: What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

A: Protection measures for everyone

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

A: Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading

  • Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)
  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.

 

Q: How likely am I to catch COVID-19?

A: The risk depends on where you are - and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.

For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go. WHO publishes daily updates on the COVID-19 situation worldwide.

You can see these at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/

 

Q: Should I worry about COVID-19?

A: Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Learn more about how to protect yourself at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

 

Q: Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

A: While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

 

Q: Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?

A: No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

 

Q: Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?

A: Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).

 

Q: How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

A: The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

 

Q: How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

A: It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

 

Q: Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

A: Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.