Update 66: Reporting infections
We are in the midst of the third wave, infection rates are rising steeply across the country and hospital beds are filling up quickly.
We are in the midst of the third wave, infection rates are rising steeply across the country and hospital beds are filling up quickly. We are reaching the end of this term and assessments will be starting soon. Whilst many of the University’s activities have moved online, we appreciate that it is necessary for some staff and students to be on campus.
For your own safety, and to protect your loved ones, colleagues, friends, and members of the Wits community, please adhere to the following:
- Meet outdoors where possible,
- Ensure that all rooms are well ventilated,
- Stay at least 1.5 metres from anyone else,
- Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth,
- Do not congregate in social groups on or off campus, and
- Sanitise and/or wash your hands regularly.
All persons over the age of 60 should also register to be vaccinated via the national Electronic Vaccination Data System – some vaccine sites are also accepting walk-ins for people over the age of 60.
We have also been notified that some members of our community are not being honest when completing the LogBox screening app, and that they are reporting for duty or class, even when they suspect that they may be infected. Others are not wearing masks and are not abiding by the COVID-19 protocols. This endangers other members of the Wits community and puts everyone at risk.
High and low risk contact exposure
The Occupational Health and Safety Office has been inundated with queries from lecturers, managers and Heads of School seeking advice on how to deal with staff or students who may have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The OHSE Office has provided the following instructions as outlined in the Wits COVID-19 Handbook, which must be followed:
- If someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was at work 10 days prior to testing positive, then the person’s line manager, lecturer or supervisor must determine whether anyone was exposed or in contact with the infected person. If this is the case, then they must determine whether the contact or exposure was high-risk or low-risk.
- Low-risk contact exposure are instances where there was no direct face to face contact with the infected person, where all persons were wearing masks properly, where there was a distance of at least 1.5 meters, and where the contact was for less than 15 minutes. For low-risk contact exposures, people can continue coming onto campus while following all the COVID-19 protocols.
- High-risk contact exposure are instances where there was direct face to face contact with an infected person, where people were not wearing masks properly, where people may have been standing within a 1.5-meter radius for more than 15 minutes and the contact was indoors (for example, they were sharing an office). High risk contacts must self-quarantine for the prescribed period of 10 days (unless a PCR test after Day 5 is negative), even if not positively diagnosed. These contacts must carry out daily self-screening to check for symptoms and signs of illness. If these contacts develop COVID-19 symptoms, the protocols for managing COVID-19 cases applies.
Reporting employee COVID-19 infections
All COVID-19 infections must be reported, irrespective of whether the infection was contracted at Wits or at home. There are prompts in the reporting forms that advise managers, supervisors, and lecturers on steps to take and University entities that must be contacted. The necessary forms can be obtained from Ntabiseng.Nzimande@wits.ac.za or by calling 011 717 9064.
- All employee infections must be formally reported to Ramakoae@wits.ac.za and Dept-OHS-Admin@wits.ac.za using the prescribed employee reporting form.
- If an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was on campus within a period of 10 days prior to testing positive, then the person’s line manager, lecturer or supervisor is legally obligated to investigate the matter and to determine:
- whether any additional controls need to be implemented,
- if the infection arose out of or in connection with the persons employment (i.e. is it a work-related infection which was contracted during his / her day to day activities at the University). The investigation must be completed on the prescribed COVID-19 investigation form and be sent to Ramakoae@wits.ac.za and Dept-OHS-Admin@wits.ac.za
- If the infection arose out of or in connection with the employee’s employment, then the necessary IOD forms must also be completed and sent to Ramakoae@wits.ac.za and Dept-OHS-Admin@wits.ac.za. This is to ensure that a compensation claim is submitted to the Compensation Commissioner as prescribed by the COVID Act and other Government COVID-19 protocols.
Reporting student COVID-19 infections
For student infections, please send the completed prescribed student reporting form to Anna.Moloi@wits.ac.za.
Steps to follow if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19
If a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, the following actions should be followed:
- Infected person: The employee or student must self-isolate and contact their manager, lecturer or supervisor. If symptoms get worse the infected employee or student must immediately contact a healthcare worker or medical practitioner for further advice. The infected person must not access campus for at least 10 days after being diagnosed. If no COVID-19 complications are experienced, then the employee or student must self-isolate for a minimum period of at least 10 days prior to returning to campus. The infected person’s supervisor, lecturer or manager must determine whether the infected person may potentially have exposed other persons in the workplace or class, and, if so, must contact them to let them know that they may have been potentially exposed to someone (do not share the person’s name) that has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19. High risk contacts must be informed that they should self-quarantine for 10 days.
- Cleaning of spaces: As the risk of infection from contaminated surfaces is low, there is no reason for the closure of buildings or office spaces. The place where an infected case might have been present should be well ventilated and the usual cleaning processes should take place. There is no need for deep cleaning or fumigation (which could in fact be harmful).
- Protection Services: The supervisor, manager or lecturer must provide Campus Protection Services (Gary Kruser / John Sibisi) with the employee or student number of the infected person and all those who are required to self-quarantine. The access cards of these persons will be temporarily blocked.
- Campus Health and Wellness Centre: The supervisor, lecturer or manager must also provide Sister Maggie at the Campus Health and Wellness Centre with the names and contact numbers of the infected person and people who must self-quarantine.
- Return to Campus: After completing the quarantine period, the person may return to campus and student or staff cards can then be reactivated.
A detailed step-by-step procedure is available in the Wits COVID-19 Handbook via the Wits Coronavirus Portal. Log in using your Wits username and password. You can also contact your respective Occupational Health and Safety Officer for more information.