UCT students seen packing their belongings and leaving res and hostels after the first case of coronavirus infection was reported. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
UCT students seen packing their belongings and leaving res and hostels after the first case of coronavirus infection was reported. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

UCT to engage with embassies to ensure international students return home safely

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

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Cape Town - The University of Cape Town to engage with foreign embassies to ensure that international students return safely to their countries.

That was according to UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. She said all students "must now leave the residences by 17:00 on Wednesday. 

"At that time all residences will be locked down, electronic access will be removed and Wi-Fi, electricity and water will be shut off.

Phakeng said the university would provide travel assistance for students unable to pay for their departure."

As part of the university's measures for lockdown. Last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a countrywide lockdown, commencing at midnight, Thursday, and lasting until 16 April 2020.

The lockdown was done to contain the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve”. The impact of the lockdown is that, apart from certain exempt sectors, no one will be allowed to leave their houses, except to buy food or seek medical attention.

Phakeng said that placed UCT in an unsustainable position and "we require every student to return home as soon as possible".

"As a result of the lockdown, no member of staff will be allowed in any UCT building, including residences in the event of an emergency. All academic activities, including research, will also cease. It is now a legal imperative that all residences must close."

She said all students – including those who received prior approval to stay – must vacate UCT premises urgently and return home. 

Otherwise, they will be in violation of the lockdown.

"We are in an unprecedented moment, as the President said last night. We all carry a huge responsibility to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on our country," she said.

Phakeng said they are continuing to discuss how they would continue UCT’s necessary work as they enter the lockdown phase.

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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