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Who should test for COVID-19

- Wits University

Answers to common questions asked by the Wits community.

Dear Colleagues and Students

We have been inundated with requests from students and staff who are concerned about their health and who are requesting to be tested for COVID-19. Here are some answers to the common questions.

  1. Who should be tested for COVID-19?
  2. Persons who may have the following symptoms:
  3. Fever + a cough OR
  4. Fever + shortness of breath


who may have returned from a high-risk country in the last 14 days


who may have been in close face-to-face contact (within 2 metres) in a closed environment for an extended period of time with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 positive person.

[WATCH]  World Health Organization explains who is at risk

Persons who have been in the same enclosed vicinity of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 positive person for an extended period of time should self-quarantine isolate for a period of 14 days. If symptoms develop during this period, they should call ahead and visit a healthcare professional, and follow their advice. These persons may require testing at this time.  

People who may walk through the same corridor as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or a large classroom are at low risk and should monitor their health carefully. They do not require testing. 

  1.   How is COVID-19 diagnosed?
  2.   Where can I get tested?

COVID-19 is diagnosed by a laboratory test known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular test on a respiratory tract sample (e.g. sample from nose, throat or chest).

If you have no symptoms, self-monitor. If symptoms develop, go into self-isolation and then call ahead and visit your healthcare professional, and take their advice. They will refer you to a laboratory to be tested if required.

  1.   Where are the high risk countries?
  2.   Do all Wits students need to be tested?
  3.   Do students need to be tested before leaving residences?
  4.   Is it not better to stay in residence?
  5.   Where can I get more credible information?
  6.   If I need counselling, where can I get help?

A.    The list of high-risk countries changes daily. View the latest map here:

A.    No. Only those students who meet the criteria above. All students who may have been at risk have already been identified and placed into self-quarantine. This group is being monitored and is receiving the support of the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Office of the Dean of Students Affairs.

A.    No. Students do not need to be tested before leaving residences. 

No. Experts in infectious diseases have advised that the University is currently in a low-risk moment and that taking the appropriate decisions now may enable the moderation of staff and student exposure to COVID-19 as we are still in the early stages of the pandemic. We believe that we are acting in the best interests of students and the broader public by bringing the mid-term break forward.

A.    Try these credible sources:

National Institute for Communicable Diseases –

World Health Organization -

Department of Health WhatsApp Line: 0600 123 456

Wits University –

A.    Students, call the ICAS hotline on 0800 111 331

Staff, call the AskNelson Hotline on 0861 635 766 or dial *134*928# or send a ‘please call me’ to 072 620 5699 or email


17 MARCH 2020 (15:00)