Nzimande: Multidisciplinary, scientific approach key to defeating COVID-19

JOHANNESBURG – Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande gave an update on measures put place in terms of the reopening of universities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister stated that a multidisciplinary, scientific approach is the key to defeating the virus.

Nzimande said the department is working with some universities to assist in fighting the pandemic.

READ: Academic year will be saved: Higher Education Department

Nzimande said at the beginning of the lockdown, the department embarked on a process to re-purpose some laboratories to assist in retesting.

“Without adequate testing, we are not going to be able to fight the virus. Government alone cannot be able to defeat the pandemic, unless we pull together all of our science and its disciplines to work together,” he said.

Nzimande stated the department is also working with some of the universities to look into indigenous products like umhlonyane, as well as, the effectiveness of cannabis.

READ: COVID-19 deaths in SA rise to 3,502

He said R15-million has been directed from existing Indigenous Knowledge projects to COVID-19 research.

The minister reported that 20 universities have allowed students to return to campus and said the Department will be closing monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

Nzimande has asked students who are not supposed to come back to campus, to continue to stay at home.

READ: COVID-19: University students call for class cancellations​​​​​​​

He said the 2020 academic year will only be completed in the early part of 2021 and it is likely that the intake of first year university students in 2021 will commence later than usual.

The minister said the Department would publish guidelines in the Government Gazette soon to guide institutions, private accommodation providers, NSFAS and fee paying students on issues linked to tuition and accommodation fees for the 2020 academic year.

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