Police and health officials on Sunday placed a Rhodes University student under quarantine after fellow students ascertained that on arriving from the US last Thursday he had been allowed to proceed to his shared accommodation in Makhanda. In a circular to students and staff on Monday Vice Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela condemned actions that put others at the risk of contracting the Coronavirus Covid-19.
There is no indication at this point that the student had symptoms nor tested positive for the virus, according to spokesperson for the Department of Health’s Makana Subregion, Siyanda Manana. However, fellow students had expressed concern on social media, given the US is a high-risk destination for Covid-19. Current Covid-19 protocols under South Africa’s national State of Disaster for people returning from high risk countries require them to be quarantined for 14 days.
Manana said the student’s housemates had also placed themselves under a voluntary two-week precautionary quarantine, in line with current protocols.
“The student did not show any symptoms,” Manana said. “He was isolated simply because he came from the US.”
In his circular to the University community, Mabizela said individual actions mattered in countering the spread of Covid-19.
“The war against the coronavirus will be won or lost depending on how each one of us… 58.78 million of us, exercises our agency in reducing the transmission and the spread of the virus,” Mabizela said..
“Over the past few days I have been deeply dismayed by the callous disregard of the health, wellbeing and safety of members of our community displayed by some who should know better. People who had travelled through countries and regions where the virus infection is high have happily turned up on our doorstep.
“This, notwithstanding the President’s declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster and issuing stringent travel restrictions and other measures to curb the spread of the virus. This reckless, irresponsible and selfish behaviour on the part of those who know that they are at high risk of transmitting the virus beggars belief.”
Mabizela implored those who had recently been to a country or region of the world considered high-risk to do “the most decent, honourable and appropriate thing’ and self-quarantine for at least 14 days.
“This will reduce the potential risk of passing the virus on to the next person,’ Mabizela said.