There is high a rise in pocket infections of Covid-19 at higher learning institutions in South Africa.
This was revealed to Citizen.co.za by Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of Higher Health, an agency mandated by the Department of Higher Education to safeguard student health and well-being in higher learning institutions within post-schooling education and training sector.
“The current outbreaks across some of our institutions are extremely worrying, and remind us of the brutal second wave that has just passed South Africa,” said Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia said as a response to the latest outbreaks the agency has trained over 500 staff members involved in student support, security, residential, cleaning, and other support services on Covid protocols, disinfection, and other safety measures.”
“We saw how rapidly South Africa was pushed into the second wave of the pandemic in December following super-spreader school-end events, like the Ballito “rage” party.”
“While Covid has largely been detrimental for the older population groups, the virus is mutating and new variants are showing a higher affinity towards young people who can serve as carriers and fasten the spread of infection. Unfortunately, that would fire up the third wave.”
Ahluwalia has since urged students and staffers at higher learning institutions to adhere to Covid protocols.
“It is normal and understandable to feel excited to be starting your tertiary education or to be happy to meet your peers.”
“We are asking students and everyone in the academic sector to respect the health of their families and others in their social circles and to join in a social compact.”
Higher Health has been working closely with higher education and training institutions, the Department of Health, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the National Health Laboratory Service.
Ahluwalia said that over 3 000 students and staff have been screened and contact traced, and over 300 individuals have been tested over the last two weeks.
He said that there was fear that during the Easter holidays, students might take infections into families and communities.