COMMUNICATION FROM PROF JULIA BLITZ - VICE DEAN: TEACHING & LEARNING

We are now in the containment phase of COVID-19, where it is important for each of us to play our role in limiting spread.

The most important response to achieve this is to change behaviour:

  • Social distancing (at least 1m); no hugs or handshakes
  • Cough Etiquette; into the crook of your elbow, or into a tissue which you throw away immediately
  • Hand washing; effective technique with soap and water, alcohol rub only if no water is available
  • Don’t touch your face (eyes, nose and mouth); this is a way to deliver the virus directly to your respiratory tract.

If you suspect symptoms, isolate yourself, put on a mask and phone a hotline – NICD 0800 029 999, or Tygerberg campus health services 021 938 9590. Do NOT go to a healthcare facility, including campus health services. Please keep an eye on this link on the university website for current updates.

To answer some questions posed by the TSR:

  1. No students should be in the isolation area of Tygerberg Hospital. The Critical Care units would like to minimise the number of people going through the units and so unless it is crucial for your rotation, you will be asked to refrain form going into critical care units
  2. Precautionary measures at this stage are predominantly hand hygiene. In doing a procedure where there is a risk of droplet spread the usual protection is appropriate – surgical mask, eye protection, plastic apron and gloves. N95 masks should only be used for procedures where there is potential of aerosol spread.
  3. Students who develop symptoms must put on a surgical mask, isolate themselves and phone a hotline (as above). At this point in time it is not necessary to go directly for testing without first seeking telephonic screening.
  4. If the outbreak becomes more widespread we will need to reconsider. However at this point hygiene measures are advised. In the lecture halls, we will be cleaning all surfaces with domestic bleach every day.
  5. There is not currently any recommended treatment for the virus. If anyone contracts the virus, they will by virtue of having been tested be under the care of a treating practitioner who would be the best person to give further advice. If a student needs to self-isolate, or be under treatment, then the leave of absence form would need to be completed as usual. We are quite prepared to be pragmatic, but we would need evidence.

Please respect patient confidentiality and be cautious about what information is put on social media platforms.

Remember that in 80% of cases, this is a mild, self-limiting illness, particularly if you are not >60 yrs old, do not smoke and do not have co-morbidities.

We are strongly recommending that all students have the influenza vaccination this year. We expect that stock will arrive in South Africa after the 22nd  of March and we are looking at a strategy of how to make that available to the student body as quickly as possible thereafter.

Prof Julia Blitz
Vice-Dean: Learning and Teaching