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When the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande recently announced that universities are allowed to operate at 100% capacity, CPUT counselling psychologists endorsed measures to follow if students had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Head of Student Counselling, Louisa Brits and two other counselling psychologists, Dr Charlene Petersen and Hanro Lourens say they aim to create awareness around procedures for dealing with a roommate or peer, who may test positive for COVID-19. The measures are more specifically aimed at guiding students.

 Brits says being confronted with a situation like this can be overwhelming and scary, often evoking a panic response.  When confronted with a scary situation one might struggle to find accurate information, trying to search through protocols and manuals. This increases uncertainty and fear, furthermore, testing one’s own coping and stress management mechanism. “This anxiety response may lead to unhealthy responses like discrimination or stigma (including gossip, spreading false rumours, unconfirmed information) towards the person/peer who tested positive.”

She says having accurate and up to date information on what steps to take eliminates panic and can assist in more rational and clear thinking.

Tips for students or people who are confronted with a peer/family member who tested positive:

  • Know the facts about COVID-19 - consult CPUT’s COVID -19 webpage for accurate information.
  • Know that there are different levels of exposure and that exposure to a person with a positive COVID diagnosis does not necessarily imply you will contract the virus.
  • Know how to protect others in the event that you might have been exposed, be responsible and maintain physical distancing.
  • Know the symptoms and understand that only a small percentage of people develop serious or life-threatening symptoms. The recovery rate from COVID-19 is currently high for South Africa.
  • Know which safeguarding measures to implement- social distancing, wearing a mask, sanitising and disinfecting protocol
  • Know the difference between quarantine and self-isolation and when to implement which protocol
  • Know when to seek help and do not be scared to consult the helplines provided by the university

An HIV peer educator says it was scary when her friend tested positive for COVID-19 because they share the same space 90% of the time. The friend tried to push their friends away but they didn't allow that to happen because that was the time she was going to need all their (friends) support the most.  “We had turns to check up on her with video calls. She cried the day she came back to our residence; she couldn't thank us enough for making her life easy during the difficult times.”

Another peer educator, Nicole Birabwa helped a student in her discussion group on mental health who tested positive and couldn’t focus on her books.  With Nicole’s advice, the student received counselling from one of the student counselling online groups. “It’s important to stand together to fight COVID, let’s not be selfish and neglect those who have tested positive but rather, let’s check up on them and provide help where needed because they feel just as we do, scared, shocked and sad.”

*If your worry or anxiety is persistent and constant, and you are finding it hard to stop worrying about the coronavirus, it is best to seek support.

COVID-19 toll-free line: 0800 029 999

Higher Health 24-hour counselling support line: 0800 36 36 36

For CPUT students, request counselling support at Student-counselling@cput.ac.za

For staff, contact the CPUT Lifestyle and Wellness Specialist at mzeles@cput.ac.za.

CPUT is gearing up for a silent protest to demonstrate support for victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and encourage students and staff to speak out against this behavioural problem.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Standing up for gender equality

Male students were encouraged to speak out in support of gender equality at the launch of CPUT’s HeforShe branch.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Blind student aims high

A new student who lost her sight due to meningitis is determined to equip herself with skills and knowledge to uplift her community.

This year World Aids Day on 1 December will be commemorated with a week-long campaign across two of CPUT’s campuses – Bellville and Cape Town.

A chance encounter on a train has seen a Disability Unit staff member being featured in a documentary focusing on the challenges of people with Albinism.

Three books targeting students about HIV/Aids and general wellness have been produced at CPUT and will be rolled out across higher education institutions.

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