Dear UJ Community,
This week, in the fight against the coronavirus, it was pleasing to hear Aspen Pharmacare confirming that it would release the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines to South Africa, as from this coming Monday. The jabs will be released to J&J from its flagship Gqeberha-based manufacturing site and will be distributed throughout the country. They will also be made available for other African countries, in a landmark move as these are the first COVID-19 vaccines to be partially produced on the continent. This is an exciting development as the world grapples with vaccine inequality.
These developments come as South Africa is increasing its vaccination rollout, with more than 6.3 million people having been vaccinated across the country so far. We also welcome the announcement by Gauteng Premier David Makhura that the province plans to increase the number of vaccination sites available, with the aim of inoculating 100,000 people every day.
We also take this opportunity to congratulate our staff members who are 35 years and older who took advantage of the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at the Discovery Health’s Gallagher Convention vaccination site in Midrand. This is a site dedicated for the vaccination of staff in Post-School Education and Training (PSET) institutions, of which our University was among the first to be selected by Higher Health and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
We encourage our students and staff who are 35 years and older to register in the available national vaccination programmes. Once you have registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) Self Registration Portal, you may alternatively use the private sector vaccination rollout option. Based on your geolocation, the link proactively enables onsite appointments.
As communicated earlier this week, the shift in COVID-19 restriction to COVID-19 Adjusted Alert Level 3 has implications for our University. To read about this, including information about all staff members returning to their workstations on campuses and other University sites on a rotational basis, the status quo regarding the delivery of the academic programme and library hours, click here.
We join the many South Africans in congratulating our top performers at the Tokyo Olympics so far! Ms Tatjana Schoenmaker has just won the first gold medal for the country and broken a world record, following her silver medal and Ms Bianca Buitendag, has also won a silver medal. This is Ms Schoenmaker’s second world record this week! The new Olympic record now held for the 200m breaststroke, stands at 2 minutes and 18.95 seconds. Ms Buitendag, meanwhile, claimed silver in the women’s surfing as the sport made its debut at the Olympics. Of the total 188 athletes representing South Africa at the Olympics (the country’s largest delegation in history), 117 are from UJ. We wish the rest of our athletes the best of luck in the remaining events and congratulate all who have played and done us proud!
Our Sport division will in three weeks’ time host its second annual Sports Conference on 19 and 20 August 2021, organised under the theme, “Safeguarding Sports.” This conference has a great line-up of speakers who are experts in their fields. Among other important matters, the conference is aimed at creating awareness on transformation, athletes’ mental wellbeing and performances, substance abuse and doping, as well as to educate and empower all attendees, from sports coaches and administrators to athletes and the public. Athletes will share their experiences and panelists such as Brenda Matafwali Chipande, Debbie Wade, Ian Braid and Wafeekah Begg-Jassiem will shed light on bullying, abuse, anti-doping, child protection and caring for professionals who look after sportspeople. To register for this conference, please follow the required steps found on the conference page.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone of our students and staff members who sent me birthday messages on Wednesday. Your warm messages lightened my day as I turned a year older!
As usual, I remind you to notify our campus clinics if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you know of a colleague or a student who has tested positive. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus//. We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times. Please inform us about your vaccinations status via the link: https://ulink.uj.ac.za/staffvac.
Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.