Fort Hare students test positive for Covid after partying

The Eastern Cape department of health has cautioned people in that province to avoid crowded places and to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures. 

This is after 30 students at the University of Fort Hare, East London campus, tested positive for the coronavirus. The department is carrying out tracing and testing. 

In a statement on Sunday, the department said the students apparently contracted the virus at a tavern in a suburb of East London on 3 October, and also at a bash that took place on 10 October in the same suburb. 

It has since emerged that none of the Covid-19 safety measures such as wearing masks, hand sanitising and social distancing were followed at the tavern. 

“Students that have attended the parties confirmed that lockdown regulations were not adhered to. Patrons who were at the tavern were allegedly more than 300 in number, some allegedly [had] been drinking from one bottle and dancing close to one another,” reads the statement. 

The majority of the students who tested positive are at the nursing science faculty and others the law faculty. 

Most of the students are self-isolating at the Alice campus, two have gone home, one to Mount Fletcher, which falls under the Joe Gqabi district, and another to East London, according to the statement. The tracing teams in the two districts have located them. 

Thirteen educators and 102 learners at recently tested positive for the coronavirus at a Burgersdorp high school in the Joe Gqabi

The news of the Fort Hare students comes as students return to universities. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced last month that under level 1 all students can return to campus. 

Last week, 89 people, among them 37 matric learners, who went to the Tin Roof bar in Cape Town tested positive for the virus. The schools had advised learners, in particular matrics, against going to crowded places. Grade 12 learners who test positive will not be allowed to sit for their final exams and will only do so next year. The exams started today (Monday) for some learners and the majority will begin writing them next month. 

On Sunday evening Health Minister Zweli Mkhize urged South Africans to remain vigilant and stay safe because the coronavirus is still around. He announced that he and his wife wife, Dr May Mkhize, had tested positive for Covid-19.

“As a country, we’ve made significant strides in our fight against this pandemic. Let us not dare regress. Whatever we do and wherever we go, we have to keep in mind that there remains a risk of a second wave. This virus only spreads through movement and contact of people. Therefore we must all play our part. We must protect ourselves and those we love,” said Mkhize in a statement.

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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