By Gaby Ndongo (3 mins read)
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has temporarily suspended the use of its biometric system in the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The biometric system enables students and staff to gain entry to any of the institution’s four campuses: Medical Campus, Education Campus, Management Campus and Main Campus.
“Access to campuses will be through showing cards to security personnel at the gates this week and through card swipes from next week,” announced Wits in a Tweet. The institution has a total of 1,112 permanent academic staff and 40,259 students (based on headcount enrolments), according to Wits Facts and Figures Brochure 2018/19.
The announcement came after three COVID-19 cases were confirmed in South Africa. On Thursday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported the country’s first case of the virus: a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife and resides in KwaZulu Natal.
A second case was confirmed on Saturday. It is of a 39-year-old lady from Gauteng and she was in direct contact with the first case. She was part of the group of 10 who had travelled to Italy.
“The public must be notified that we have information and know the whereabouts of all the other 10 people who were part of the group that had travelled to Italy,” said health minister Zweli Mkhize in a statement released on Saturday.
“All those who came back to South Africa, are currently being tested. We are now awaiting their test results to come out. Since being traced, they have remained in isolation to avoid any further contact with third parties,” Mkhize added.
By Sunday, NICD said that the wife of the man who was the first confirmed case tested positive and she is thus the third infected person.
“We confirm that we traced all 10 of these individuals. Nine of them had returned to South Africa. The tenth did not and is therefore not in our country,” said NICD. Results of the remaining six are likely to be released on Tuesday.
Apart from South Africa, other African countries have also confirmed cases. These countries are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal. The central Chinese city of Wuhan was the first area to report cases of the virus in December.
Symptoms of the virus range from coughing, sore throat, malaise, headaches and fever. Based on Reuters Graphics latest figures, there are 110,034 cases globally, 3,826 deaths, 90 countries outside of China that have reported infections and 62,271 people have recovered from the virus. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo. Editing by Magnificent Mndebele & Kupakwashe Kambasha. Feature image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay.