The University of Cape Town (UCT) will suspend all classes for the remainder of the term from today [March 16] as a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng explains that the decision was made as a precautionary, proactive measure to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Today we were made aware that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19,” says Phakeng. “The staff member is in isolation at home. The Western Cape Department of Health has begun the contact tracing process and is contacting all those who were in close contact with our colleague as per the protocol prescribed by the provincial and national health agencies.”

“Members of the university community who are well and who have been in close contact with the staff member have been instructed to remain in quarantine for 14 days while being monitored for symptoms.”

The Term 1 vacation that would have begun on Saturday, March 21 will now commence immediately. Term 2 was scheduled to begin on Monday, March 30 but as of now, there is no new date set. Leadership will confirm a new Term 2 beginning once they have assessed the circumstances.

“We have now turned our focus on different ways to continue teaching and learning at UCT when we do commence with Term 2,” says Phakeng in her statement. “We are mapping out the way forward and working with deans across campus. We will communicate our broader plan with respect to online learning by the end of the week, or as soon as possible thereafter. Postgraduate students are advised to continue working with their supervisors and to work off campus as far as possible. Any students with questions relating to their specific situations should contact their respective departments.”

UCT staff will work from home where they can, and all gatherings and work meetings will be minimised. Any UCT-related conferences and events will be postponed or cancelled until the end of June 2020.

– The provincial landing page for coronavirus information:

– Public Hotline: 0800 029 999

– WHO contact page:

Also read: Covid-19 positive patient urges citizens to be responsible

Picture: Facebook / University of Cape Town

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