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Institutions Of Higher Learning Deal With Increasing Covid Cases

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A cluster Covid-19 outbreak at TUT was a great concern, as this led to the spike of Covid cases in the Tshwane region. Institutions of higher learning have plans in place to break the chain of transmission and prepare for the next academic year.

The University of Johannesburg is the latest institution of higher learning to join the mandatory vaccination drive like the other universities have been doing.

“In the new year you asked, are we looking towards perhaps having more online lectures because as it stands right now we’re at a point where with all these variants that keep coming up you know, no one is essentially really safe,” said Higher Health CEO Dr. Ramneek Ahluwalia.

The Gauteng Province accounts for 8 000 out of 16 366 active cases.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says Gauteng will be in the Covid-19 fourth wave this coming Friday.

There are four key variables that are driving the fourth wave.

  1. Community Spread – Omicron is highly transmissible and has become a dominant variant and has now spread to all the provinces and has formed a community spread.
  2. Youth – early trends have clearly shown the variant was highly showing affinity to young people. Young people have been transmitting this virus quite enormously.
  3. Behavior – the reality is we have let our guard down and no longer practice Covid regulations.
  4. Vaccination – currently there’s just 36% of people that have been fully vaccinated.

In July 2020, institutions had to be open for contact learning. Systems were built to prevent congestion at the gates.

These systems include the issuing of a daily passport per day on a toll-free health check application and doing a symptom screening.

Courses such as plumbing, electrical, medicine, and mining, just to mention a few, are not able to entirely rely on online learning.

“Irrespective of how the levels of our vaccination rates will be, we will still open institutions as planned in the 2022 academic year,” said Dr. Ahluwalia.

Student vaccination will allow institutions to start considering stretching from the hybrid contact learning and open learning systems.

There will then be a move from the initial 50% contact learning and 70% online learning to a 70% contact learning and 30% online learning.

“At the end, our institutions are built for contact learning,” said Dr. Ahluwalia.

Approximately 56 000 frontline workers and student volunteers are actually deployed in the institutions of higher learning to keep on ensuring that the protocols are followed.

This goes as deep as private accommodations and residences. Quarantine and isolation facilities have also been established, preventing any future cluster outbreaks and breaking down the chain of transmission.

These are the protocols that ought to be followed in residences and classrooms, as they are measures and systems built for infrastructural development to deal with Covid.

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