enda University staff and students from various departments are producing sanitisers and surface disinfectants as their contribution in the fight against Covid-19. Picture: Supplied
enda University staff and students from various departments are producing sanitisers and surface disinfectants as their contribution in the fight against Covid-19. Picture: Supplied

Univen students and staff make own sanitisers, disinfectants to fight Covid-19

By Boitumelo Metsing Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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Venda University staff and students from various departments are producing sanitisers and surface disinfectants as their contribution in the fight against Covid-19.

School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences dean Professor Natasha Potgieter said the university management saw a need to produce sanitisers internally to minimise the Covid-19 risks for the institution’s staff and students and the wider community.

“The School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences has the expertise and both the staff and postgraduate students were eager to get involved in this project and wanted to do their part in combating the spread of the virus,” said Potgieter.

The university hopes to produce a mass number of sanitisers to sell at a reasonable price to its immediate communities and others at large.

Deputy dean of the faculty Professor Peter Tshisikhawe said: “Our aim is to unroll these sanitisers for reselling to communities at an affordable price. We are worried about the communities especially in the districts.

“However, we are still having challenges; we don’t have enough material as chemicals have become expensive. We could only place orders with companies that are far away which delays the process.”

The hand sanitiser is made from ethanol, glycerol and essential oils (sourced from different plants) to keep people’s hands moisturised while disinfecting them.

The surface disinfectant is diluted with hypochlorite solution.

“It is important that people become aware of their behaviour and be proactive by always carrying the hand sanitiser with them and use it as often as possible,” said Potgieter.

University of Cape Town alumni Tamir Shklaz and Wisani Shilumani have also developed an app, Coronapp, that provides the public with reliable and accurate information about the coronavirus.

UCT graduates Tamir Shklaz and Wisani Shilumani were inspired to create the Coronapp by the spread of fake news on the pandemic. The app took a weekend to build.

“We developed the website last weekend amid the chaos that was happening, with the false information that actively inspired panic. We were inspired to develop a centralised centre of information that is reliable and helpful.

“We source information from credible sources such as the Department of Health to provide information that South Africans can be confident in.

“We have been able to reach over 250000 website hits and 31000 people have used the app in a week,” said Shklaz.

The pair’s aim is to provide accessible information that is easily accessible to help small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in the period of lockdown.

Shklaz said they were looking at approaching SMMEs with regard to a new feature they were planning on implementing to get people to buy coupons from SMMEs to redeem after the pandemic.

“Which is a viable thing should the pandemic end,” he said.

They have also faced financial constraints but believed that with the help of a large partner, the platform can make a significant difference in the fight against the outbreak.

“In the meantime, the best thing South African individuals can do is to play their role,” said Shklaz. 

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