350 Wits students are affected. 

Three hundred and fifty Wits University medical students will go into self-quarantine after it was announced on Sunday, March 15, that a  student who had come into contact with a Covid-19 patient, had tested positive for the disease.

The affected student from the school of clinical medicine had  been in self-quarantine since Wednesday, March 11, but according to Wits, had attended classes two days before that, potentially exposing all of her classmates to the virus.

“The student was asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and attended classes last Monday [March 9] and Tuesday [March 10], without knowledge that [she] had contracted the virus,” read a statement issued by the university.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to two of the student’s classmates who are currently in quarantine.

Tanushri Pillay, a third-year GEMP 1 student and a classmate of the affected student, said, “To be honest, as an individual in the medical profession, we are prepared for the outbreak mentally, emotionally and physically and it’s important to not panic and to deal with the matter as we receive information.”

During the 14-day period, Romy Sapire, another third-year GEMP 1 student, said she will be self-quarantined at home. Satire said she is concerned about her family’s exposure to the virus. “I am feeling a little worried, but for now I’ll just monitor myself and take it from there,” she said.

According to Sapire, the infected student has not been identified but she told Wits Vuvuzela, “The people who were in close contact with the confirmed case have been contacted separately by that person.”

Both Pillay and Sapire confirmed they received an email from the school confirming the positive case around 2pm on Sunday, March 15. Satire says, “My class got an email before everyone else and separate to the email we got an attachment with a protocol on how to self-quarantine.”

The Wits Medical School Council (MSC) released a statement on Sunday, March 15, saying, “The MSC firmly believes that the Faculty has made an irresponsible decision by not suspending all activities in the Faculty of Health Sciences.”

The MSC told Wits Vuvuzela, “we find fault in faculty not cancelling clinical activities for [the] entire campus because it is common knowledge GEMP 1s continued to attend mass events early in the week before the Wits COVID-19 management committee informed the university community on the GEMP 1 case.”

The MSC says they plan to, “bring to the attention of the School of Clinical Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences all issues affecting students, including the inability to self-quarantine at residence on and off campus.”

The contact classes for the GEMP 1 students have been cancelled and moved online. In addition, the Wits Senior executive team announced on Sunday, March 15, that all face to face teaching would be suspended on Monday, March 16, pending further details.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students at the Wits Medical School campus in Parktown. Photo: File.