Campus Life


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Stellenbosch University (SU) has made an urgent call on all foreign students who recently returned from Ebola-infected countries to report to health authorities immediately, should they experience any symptoms of the disease.

Dr Craig Thompson, manager of Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine at SU called on Die Matie to help spread the message among students and staff that “the onus is on everyone to be aware of the possibility of the diagnosis [of Ebola]“.

He emphasised that this applied specifically to students who traveled to the affected Western African countries within the last three weeks.

According to Thompson, the death toll of Ebola continues to rise in West Africa. The South African government issued a total travel ban late last week for all non-citizens travelling from high risk countries (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia).

South Africans who intend to travel to and from these countries are requested to delay travel plans unless it is absolutely essential.

Thompson said that if any such cases are suspected on campus, the patient should immediately be conveyed to Campus Health Services, where all the necessary procedures are in place to deal with such eventualities.

SU medical campus’s Tygerberg Hospital has been declared the official location for Ebola patients of the Western Cape. Private and state hospitals will also be ready to receive patients.

The university has meanwhile confirmed that there is a comprehensive emergency plan in place to deal with any possible situation or outbreak of Ebola on campus.

Dr Pierre Viviers, Senior Director: Campus Health Service, said the university’s health service is ready to implement measures and guidelines to provide the necessary support should any suspected Ebola virus cases be reported at its campuses.

“SU acknowledges the un­precedented outbreak of the Ebola virus in Western Africa. But South Africa has put in place preventative measures and guidelines to detect and manage suspected cases in order to limit the spread of the disease,” said Viviers.

Thompson agreed the campus was adequately prepared to deal with the situation. He told Die Matie that numerous meetings between different stakeholders had been held since the start of the month to bring all role-players up to speed on Ebola and the necessary procedures to deal with an outbreak.

He added that a national health alert had been instituted by the South African government in response to the “very unlikely event” that possible Ebola cases do present themselves in the country.

“This health plan response definitely includes Stellenbosch. Campus Health Services will act in accordance with what has been prescribed for the region by the Provincial Department of Health.”

The Centre for Infectious Diseases at SU recently held a symposium to discuss Ebola, which at the time of going to press had already claimed more than 1 300 lives with the death toll expected to continue rising.

There is no cure, but efforts are being made on new experimental medicine.

Two suspected Ebola victims were recently hospitalised in Gauteng after showing signs of high fever, but were found to be free of the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, the typical symptoms of the virus also include extreme weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. Vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, impaired kidney and liver function may follow and, in certain cases, both internal and external bleeding.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi earlier said that South Africans should not panic about the spread of the Ebola virus to the country as every precaution has been taken to prevent the influx and spread of the disease.

Earlier this month, a special emergency meeting was held in Johannesburg between health ministers and senior officials of the Southern African Development Community of which South Africa is a member to discuss the outbreak and measures to deal with it.

A release by SU recently said that, in the event of a suspected Ebola infection, students should not hesitate to contact Campus Health Services at 021 808 3494 during office hours or at 076 431 0305 after hours


By Tanya Steenkamp, from Die Matie 27 August