UKZN launches groundbreaking war room to fight coronavirus
RUSTENBURG - The University of KwaZulu-Natal launched a groundbreaking campus health "war room" in a bid to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the university said on Tuesday.
"The threat of the new coronavirus is compelling motivation why we, as a university, need to constantly be alert and put in place proactive and pro-response mechanisms to combat diseases and illnesses," said Professor Nana Poku, Vice-Chancellor and Principal.
"The rampant COVID-19 pandemic has already spread to six continents and there are no signs that it is being brought under control. Starting today (Tuesday), the university’s college of health sciences, headed by its Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, is instituting a large-scale high level surveillance, prevention and response measures to make sure that we are ready for when COVID-19 is detected in our vicinity."
The university has created an email address: [email protected] and the hashtag: #ukzncovid19 as a way for staff and students to make enquiries.
The university was in the process of creating a hotline which would aid in communicating with its stakeholders about the virus.
"The plan offers a coordinated cohesive strategy for preparedness, and will require each and every one of us to get involved. We believe in this instance, prevention is better than cure. Given the high concentration of people on our campuses [students and staff], prevention and protection against the spread of disease is critical," Poku said.
The team heading the project would also co-opt experts and volunteers from various colleges, schools, disciplines, travel, and other university structures and student communities to assist in awareness and provide expert advice.
"The objective is the immediate launch of a multi-disciplinary Campus Health War Room, which will be the first of its kind in Africa.
"The War Room will provide the necessary evidence and guidance to effectively respond to COVID-19, and this may include a policy of quarantine, including self-quarantine, in all possible cases of exposure for the duration of the incubation period, and based on any requirements by the health authorities such as the department of health, National Institute for Control of Disease, and the World Health Organisation."
Poku said while no cases of the disease have been detected in South Africa, the World Health Organisation expects most, if not all countries, to detect cases.
'We know cases have already been detected in Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and now Morocco, and that two South Africans have been diagnosed in Japan, and more than 150 South Africans in Wuhan will be brought back into the country," he said.African News Agency