UKZN Launches Groundbreaking War Room to Fight Coronavirus

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is expected to launch a health “war room” to lend a hand in the fight against the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

“The threat of the new coronavirus is compelling motivation why we, as a university, need to constantly be alert and put in place proactive and pro-response mechanisms to combat diseases and illnesses,” UKZN vice-chancellor and principal professor Nana Poku said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The rampant Covid-19 pandemic has already spread to six continents and there are no signs that it is being brought under control. Starting today, the university’s College of Health Sciences, headed by its deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, is instituting large-scale high-level surveillance, prevention and response measures to make sure that we are ready for when Covid-19 is detected in our vicinity,” Poku added.

Covid-19 is the official name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The deadly virus – which has left more than 2 700 people dead in more than 80 000 reported cases to date – has not reached South Africa, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, News24 earlier reported.

The project, led by Professor Mosa Moshabela, the dean and head of school: nursing and public health, will offer an “a coordinated cohesive strategy for preparedness”.

“The university is committed to putting in place measures to strengthen these essential campus health services before our campus is hit by the virus.

“The ‘war room’ will provide the necessary evidence and guidance to effectively respond to Covid-19, and this may include a policy of quarantine, including self-quarantine, in all possible cases of exposure for the duration of the incubation period, and based on any requirements by the health authorities, such as the Department of Health, National Institute for Control of Disease and the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Poku said.

Coronavirus: UKZN’s strategy for preparedness

  • The rollout of a high-impact health awareness campaign.
  • Infection control and health promotion intervention.
  • A fully trained team that will be on standby and work closely with the health authorities and government to manage symptomatic persons, along with clear procedures and trained experts to manage and track people within the greater university community who possibly had contact with them for the screening of Covid-19.

Staff and students can send inquiries to covid19@ukzn.ac.za and call the general public toll-free number 0800 029 999 for further queries.

“It is our hope that this effort, under our banner #ukzncovid19, will support and benefit our local communities to detect, prevent and respond to the virus.

“As an institution of higher learning with exceptional clinical expertise, we will no doubt be called upon to support eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg, and the rest of the province, should the need arise, and we must remain ready for such responsibilities,” Poku said.

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