Despite the change of covid-19 regulations, student accommodations continue to follow and practice strict covid-19 protocols. 

Residences on and off-campus continue to follow covid-19 protocols regardless of the change in regulations and increase in covid cases in South Africa. 

A recent report by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, states there has been an 18,7% increase in positive covid-19 cases in South Africa.

On May 4, 2022 new covid-19 regulations were gazetted by Minister of Health Joe Phaahla to replace the country’s transitional measures. The change in regulations came a month after the lifting of the national state of disaster.  

The new regulations include the wearing of masks in public transportation and indoor public spaces. All gatherings are limited to a 50% venue capacity, permitting those who are unvaccinated and without valid covid-19 tests in but with a limitation of 1000 to 2000 people.  

Shortly before this, Dr Richard Lessells, infectious diseases expert at Krisp, said that two new variants of Omicron had been detected in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape. Experts speculate that the incline in cases could have been due to the increased travel during Easter long weekend and public holidays throughout April.  

Sunnyside chairperson Selematsela Matlou said that many of the residences have the same covid-19 protocols as Wits University. “The placement of sanitising stations, limiting participants in common rooms, cleaning rotations and emphasizing masks,” are measures that have been applied says Matlou.

A student reading the covid-19 protocols at South Point. Photo: Malaika Ditabo

A careful eye is kept on new positive cases and, “The procedure for isolation [is] are also followed to minimize and prevent spreading to other students,” says Matlou. She further explains that: “Should there be any drastic changes, I am quite confident strict protocols will be returned.”  

Wits University, residence operations manager Lusanda Cain said that the Highfields office has only been notified of two official positive cases and have placed the students in isolation.  

“If 100 of 300 students who share a common space are positive, it would be advisable to close the residence” says Cain. The operations manager explains that during the fourth wave, the residences had a few cases, and that the vaccine mandate has assisted in making them feel safe.  

Namhla Madlala, a first-year BSc student, who lives at Medhurst Hall says, “Administrators are strict, if they find you without a mask, [they] get your student number and if you are not okay, like coughing, you get quick attention and [can] get in trouble if you’re sick and don’t tell.”

Off-campus accommodations such as Campus Africa and YW Junction are also still following strict protocols. Limited numbers of residents are permitted in common areas and visitor numbers are being monitored.  

Lebogang Mogakane, a first-year BCom student who resides at YW Junction, said the residence has been following covid-19 regulations, particularly in shared areas, students must “Book to go to the TV room, [due] to a minimum number of 15 to 20 people allowed at a time,” she said.  

The shared response by authorities in accommodations and university students to the change in covid-19 regulations highlight the gradual acceptance and adaptation to covid into our daily lives. Regulations have changed and loosened; however, many have learned to live with the virus.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Witsies conversating outside Sunnyside Residence. Photo: Malaika Ditabo