By Ashok Ramsarup :: One of South Africa’s leading university – University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) – has decided to postpone the re-opening of its campuses in the New Year after the Covid-19 pandemic reached alarming proportions in the country.
The university has made a conscious decision after Presidential declaration of the state of disaster in South Africa after figures of Covid-19 peaked at more than one million cases. President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country was at a dangerous juncture in the pandemic and action had to be taken as a new Covid-19 variant was detected in the country.
In a statement, the UKZN said the decision had been taken in the best interests of the University Community and students to postpone the re-opening from the 4th January 2021.
UKZN Acting Executive: Corporate Relations Normah Zondo said the two campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg were declared Covid-19 hotspots. Zondo said: “It’s critical that all the campuses remain closed for all on-campus activities until the 18th January 2021.
“It is hoped that further directives will be advised from the President and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
“The staff and students are advised that all 2021 registration processes commence on 18th January 2021 and must be completed on-line and from remote locations, “she said.
Zondo made it abundantly clear that there would be no registration services and no registration assistance available on campus.
Earlier this week in an emotional televised speech to the country, Ramaphosa said the variant was moving at a rapid pace. He was forced to move the country to Level Three lockdown with immediate effect when the Covid-19 figures increased.
In the past 24 hours, South Africa recorded 17,710 new Covid-19 cases. The country’s economic capital Gauteng forged ahead recording the highest number of new cases, followed by Western Province and Eastern Cape. Almost 6 555 761 tests were carried out.
Ramaphosa said: “South African genomic scientists identified a variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus, better known as 501.V2 variant that appears to be more contagious than the virus that first landed in the country earlier this year.
He said gatherings would be banned, no-one would be able to leave their homes between 9 pm and 6 am. All shops, bars and other venues would be closed by 8 pm. He added that individuals who failed to wear a mask in public places would face fines or imprisonment.
Zondo said the university was forced to explore various learning’ methodologies to ensure that staff and students were able to access campuses as safe as possible. “All academic activities will remain on-line, and data will continue to be provided as before. The College of Health Sciences students will be advised by their Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Deans of their prioritised return,” she added.