The Department of Higher Education has appealed to students who are yet to return to tertiary institutions to ensure they stay home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

South Africa has recorded over 215 000 COVID-19 infections, of which over 100 000 have recovered and 3 502 COVID-19 related deaths.

Below is a breakdown of the latest figures as of 07 July 2020:

Speaking during a media briefing in Pretoria, Minister Blade Nzimande says only 33% of the student population has been allowed back on campus.

He says this includes students in their final years.

“This 33% of the returning students include students in their final year of their programmes, who are on a path to graduating in 2020. Final year students who require access to labs, technical equipment, data connectivity and access to residence and private accommodation; students in all years of study that require clinical training in their programmes and post-graduate students who require lab equipment and other equipment. Students who are not supposed to go back, we urge them not to attempt to go back to campuses.”

Nzimande says his department has repurposed some of its scientific laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the department embarked on a process to repurpose some of our labs to assist in testing. This means a number of labs that were doing other scientific work have been supported to refocus on work to support the fight against COVID-19. Labs are already conducting tests, or ready to receive samples from the National Health Lab Services. The work that we are doing is contributing to expanding testing as well as the production of new testing kits.”

In the video below, Minister Blade Nzimande addresses the media on COVID-19 measures at institutions of higher learning: