Positive Covid-19 diagnosis at UWC

The University of the Western Cape.

Stay away from hospitals and clinics unless it’s an emergency.

That’s the message from the provincial Department of Health as it clears the decks to stop Covid-19 spreading and braces for the full impact of the worldwide pandemic.

According to department spokesman Mark van der Heever, the focus is on clearing the facilities of people who don’t need to be there.

Fewer people, spending less time in a waiting room curbs the spread of the virus and makes it easier for health-care workers to tackle Covid-19 cases.

To do this the, department is making several changes.

– Visiting times and visitor numbers are being reduced.

– Non-urgent outpatient appointments will be postponed.

– Stable chronic patients will be issued two-month’s supply of medication to reduce visits.

– Non-urgent elective surgery will be postponed.

– Outreach support to outlying areas will be reduced

– Hospital patients who are stable will be discharged to be cared for at home.

Mr Van der Heever urged the public to stay clear of hospitals and clinics unless faced with an emergency. And they should seek advice first if unsure.

If you have flu-like symptoms, including a cough and fever, first call the provincial Covid-19 hotline at 021 928 4102 for advice.

“Unless advised to, you should not go to your clinic or hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, the University of Western Cape staff member who tested positive for Covid-19 last Thursday had recently returned from an overseas trip with flu-like symptoms, the university said.

The diagnosis came on the day the university was planning to close its doors to students, following the announcement of stiff new measures to fight the spread of the virus.

The university planned to close their doors to students due to the Covid-19 outbreak, however, on the same day, a male employee tested positive to the virus.

The staff member had recently returned home after a trip overseas and was experiencing mild flu-like symptoms and was tested at a nearby facility.

UWC’s acting rector and vice-chancellor, Professor Vivienne Lawack, said: “After presenting some symptoms, the staff member opted to be tested and the University of the Western Cape is tracing all those who had been in contact with the staff member who tested positive for Covid-19.

The dean of the relevant faculty and a small team are monitoring and tracing possible affected persons and self-isolation processes.”

Professor Lawack added that the decision to close the campus had been made in the interest of staff and student safety, she said.

Skeleton staff and work-from-home arrangements were some of the measures the university was taking to keep its essential services running, she said.

Professor Lawack urged all students and staff to remain calm and not send hoax messages about Covid-19.

It was not immediately clear at the time of going to press what impact the 21-day lockdown, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night, would have on UWC.

“The university will make an announcement with regard to the re-opening of campus after confirmation has been received from those who had been in contact with the infected staff member, as well as others who had recently travelled. The university wants to be sure everybody has been tested and cleared.”‘