Univeristy of Pretoria superspreader

Photo: Flickr

Superspreader alert? Over 100 University of Pretoria students contract COVID-19

It’s likely that the next superspreader event in South Africa will emerge on-campus – with the first warning signs coming from the University of Pretoria.

Univeristy of Pretoria superspreader

Photo: Flickr

The pandemic is far from over: It has been confirmed that the University of Pretoria now has more than 100 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since 19 March, putting the campus on high alert. These developments come just days after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande expressed his fears about a new superspreader event in SA.

University of Pretoria COVID-19 outbreak – over 100 infected

According to a statement released by the University of Pretoria, the first transmission in this cluster outbreak is thought to have come from a popular student venue in the city, setting the wheels in motion for scores of others to fall ill:

“A number of students at a few residences tested positive. It is suspected that the first infection arose after social contact at a venue frequented by students outside of campus. We remind students again of the importance of adhering to all the Covid-19 protocols as set out on the University of Pretoria website.”

Blade Nzimande raises superspreader fears

All in-residence social activities have been put on hold at UP, and the Department of Health has launched a mass testing site on campus, allowing students to screen themselves for the virus if they present symptoms – or if they’ve been in contact with anyone who is has been forced to self-isolate in the past two weeks.

Minister Nzimands fears that the next superspreader event for South Africa is likely to happen at one of our major universities – hence his concerns over the Pretoria outbreak. With the 501Y.V2 variant proving to be more transmissible amongst the young adult population, the veteran politician suspects incidents like these will ‘fire up’ a third wave.

“The reports of new cases at tertiary institutions are extremely worrying. While COVID-19 has been largely detrimental for the older age groups, the virus is mutating and showing a higher affinity towards young people. They can serve as carriers and spread infection, and that will fire up the third wave.”