UFS COVID-19 Infomation 

 Staff information
Student information

Recorded on 20 March 2020

Latest Information

The well-being, health and safety of staff and students of the University of the Free State (UFS) is extremely important and the threat of infection with COVID-19 in the university community is a major risk. To this end, the Academic Programme was suspended on 17 March 2020.

COVID-19 is a global pandemic and as a result, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared it a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March. On 23 April 2020, President Ramaphosa announced that beyond 30 April 2020 South Africa will implement a risk adjusted strategy to take a deliberate and cautious approach to ease the national lockdown restrictions.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly and the UFS is monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

Information on these pages will be updated regularly. Click on one of the blocks below for more information:

Question and Answers on the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2)


The Coronavirus (COVID-19/SARS-COV-2) and the spreading thereof is of great concern to the executive management of the University of the Free State (UFS) – specifically now that a number of cases in South Africa have been identified. 

Due to the seriousness of this global pandemic, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, has established a Coronavirus Task Team consisting of representatives from various key function areas on the campuses. This includes members of the executive management, virologists, infectious disease experts and representatives of the academic and support service functions. The team meets frequently to discuss the contingency and preparedness plans for the university’s three campuses.  

The Task Team is also liaising with the provincial Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg to provide up-to-date information to staff and students. 

A communication plan is in place and regular communication is distributed to staff and students – including a set of questions and answers, video clips, as well as guidelines on what to do, etc.


The virus that is causing the current outbreak is called the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease is referred to as coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

Human coronaviruses are common worldwide. Some coronaviruses are common causes of illness, including respiratory illness, in humans throughout the world.

Sometimes coronaviruses infecting animals can evolve to cause disease in humans (in other words they have crossed the species barrier) and become a new (novel) coronavirus for humans, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (or SARS) first recognised in China in 2002, as well as the current outbreak.

The virus was only discovered at the beginning of this year, so obviously the situation is evolving and there is still a lot that is not known.

The virus is spread by respiratory droplets and has travelled from China to multiple countries around the world.

Fever screening is conducted at international airports. If there is a suspected case, procedures are in place for case isolation and testing so that the diagnosis can be made quickly.

Suspected cases will be managed at designated hospitals with isolation facilities.

People who develop symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever, and shortness of breath within 14 days of travelling to countries where coronavirus is known to be circulating, should seek medical care early and share information about their travel history with their doctors. For further information, consult the document I think I may have COVID-19 ... what now?

Current symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Patients with underlying illness and the elderly (older than 60 years) appear to be at increased risk of severe illness.

Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein has been identified for isolation of persons with confirmed infections.

The hospital has an isolation ward where they have previously handled cases of Congo fever (a viral haemorrhagic fever with a 25% fatality rate) and has the required expertise for managing cases of COVID-19.

Patients will be treated in a specific isolation ward by suitably trained and experienced healthcare workers, and hence other patients and staff are not at risk of exposure.


Except for the UFS website, regular communication regarding the virus is also being distributed on the university’s platforms, such as the social media, Intranet and Blackboard. The websites of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) are primary sources of reliable information. Fake news is everywhere; please consult these primary sources of information.

Corona virus poster

Contact Information

 Coronavirus Contact Information



Coronavirus: Public Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Published on 2 April 2020)

Coronavirus: Prof Francis Petersen Briefs Media (Recorded on 18 March 2020)

Coronavirus: Protect Yourself and Others (Recorded on 16 March 2020)

Coronavirus: Q&A with Prof Felicity Burt (Recorded on 12 March 2020)

Coronavirus: Message from Prof Francis Petersen (Recorded on 4 March 2020)

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  • Lockdown update: places of worship and other public places
  • Lockdown update
  • Lockdown updated: businesses and other entities
  • Lockdown update: individuals
  • SA lockdown regulations: Essential goods and services during lockdown
  • SA Lockdown regulations: Essential goods and services
  • What will I be able to do under lockdown?
  • Who will remain at work? Essential services.
  • What is a lockdown? All non-essential activities are suspended.
  • What is the purpose of a lockdown? The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission
  • Myth: There are medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19
  • Myth: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating COVID-19
  • Myth: Only the elderly can contract COVID-19
  • Myth: Eating garlic can help prevent COVID-19 infection
  • Myth: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can help prevent COVID-19 infection
  • Myth: Pets can spread COVID-19
  • Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can kill COVID-19
  • Myth: An ultraviolet lamp can kill COVID-19
  • Myth: Coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites
  • Myth: Hand dryers effective in killing COVID-19
  • Myth: Taking a hot bath prevents COVID-19
  • Myth: Vaccines for pneumonia protect you against Coronavirus?
  • Myth: Cold weather and snow can kill COVID-19
  • Myth: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

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