UJ suspends biometrics as coronavirus spreads

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Mar 2020

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has announced precautionary measures in the wake of more coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reported in SA.

Yesterday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize revealed seven people have tested positive for coronavirus in the country so far.

Taking to its social media page, UJ said: “The biometric access control system will be suspended with effect from Thursday, 12 March 2020 until further notice.

“Your student/staff card will still be required for access into campus.”

South Africa has joined the list of countries to report cases of coronavirus, with its first case being that of a KwaZulu-Natal man reported last week. Since then, his wife and five others, who were all part of the group of 10 that travelled to Italy, have been diagnosed with the disease.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in the central city of Wuhan in December, with the number of cases globally surpassing the 100 000 mark as of 7 March, according to the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) has announced all its branches will make hand sanitisers available to taxpayers who visit its branches.

In a statement, SARS says it will ensure all working and service areas that are most frequently touched are kept clean with specialised detergents.

Furthermore, information will be shared with taxpayers on basic steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The SARS commissioner stated: “In the past few weeks, SARS has made available its person protective equipment to customs officials at all ports of entry, including masks, gloves as well as hand sanitisers, in line with national government guidelines.”

According to the taxman, customs officials will also be supported by health officials who will screen travellers entering SA.

SARS officials are also in contact with customs authorities from neighbouring states to share information regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and steps to mitigate the risk of infection.

“I call on all taxpayers and traders to take note of the information available to take steps to protect their health and well-being. Our core message to our employees, as well as taxpayers, traders and travellers is to not panic, but to practise self-care and consideration to others.

“In this regard, to practise high levels of personal hygiene, especially to regularly and thoroughly wash hands; minimise handshakes and travel, and remain indoors should they experience symptoms of flu.

“We want to reassure all taxpayers, traders and travellers that SARS, along with other government departments, is playing its part in responding to the COVID-19 virus.”