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Despite student, staff COVID-19 deaths, USAf says no cause for concern yet

USAf said at least 28 staff members and four students had died from COVID-19 related complications since institutions reopened two months ago.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The latest COVID-19 data from Universities South Africa (USAf) has painted a bleak picture for institutions across the country.

USAf said that at least 28 staff members and four students had died from COVID-19 related complications since institutions reopened two months ago.

In June, the Department of Higher Education allowed 33% of students to return to campuses, including those in their final year and those studying medicine.

Despite the reported fatalities, USAf said there was no cause for concern yet.

Wits University, Vaal University of Technology, and the University of Cape Town were among institutions that had staff and students who tested positive for coronavirus.

“There are approximately 12,100 positive cases that have been identified across the system. And some 15,100 students and staff have been asked to go into quarantine and 300 staff and students have been asked to go into isolation. Unfortunately, there have also been deaths. These are mostly people who had comorbidities,” USAf CEO Ahmed Bawa.

Although Bawa said that institutions across the country had managed to avoid an outbreak, some universities were vulnerable due to a surge in community infections and insufficient health systems.

“There are some institutions which are very vulnerable to big outbreaks and not being able to cope with them,” he said.

The South African Union of Students has since criticised the Department of Higher Education for being silent and showing a lack of leadership.

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