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Wits University tests for COVID-19 cases and develops PPEs

24th April 2020

Scientists and researchers at the Wits University are involved in several activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, an interdisciplinary team of researchers made up of computer and data analysts, engineers and physicists, have developed an intuitive and interactive Dashboard to track and model the spread of the virus. Also, the University, in partnership with a private foundation (Gift of Givers) has opened a COVID-19 Testing Station on the Braamfontein Campus, which offers tests to referred potential patients for a small fee. The facility has a turnaround time of between 24-48 hours for results.

Again, to support the production of critical protective health equipment, the Wits University Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct is being used as a tech hub for the province to manage the pandemic. Engineers and students at the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment have been involved in producing face shields and breathing assistant devices for use in local hospitals. Faculty and students have also been engaged in donating hand gloves to support the work of medical staff while others remain in various health facilities to support the efforts of front-line workers. Regarding ongoing research, several academics are engaged in the development of coating materials with anti-COVID-19 properties for important places of public gathering such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes, among others (attachment).

Additionally, other academics have been engaged in public education and advocacy efforts. For instance, the Centre for Deaf Studies (CFDS) at the Wits university launched several initiatives aimed at filtering information on the pandemic, self-protective measures and government programs aimed at curbing the spread of the disease to hearing-impaired communities in South Africa. Some students of the university have also been engaged in the production/ translation of educational posters and comics on the coronavirus. Again, over fifty academics from Wits University were part of a group of 78 who petitioned the president of South Africa, outlining critical economic interventions that were needed to support vulnerable households and keep the economy running.