By Azarrah Karrim
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Wits University are in the process of suspending the use of their biometric access control systems as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19.
According to UJ, the suspension will take effect on Thursday, 12 March 2020, and will last “until further notice”. Wits is in the process of disabling its system, so staff and students will only need their cards for access.
According to Herman Esterhuizen, UJ’s media relations coordinator, the biometric system works by scanning student and staff cards as well as their fingers.
He said the university will temporarily disable the finger scanner but keep the card readers active.
The university will also be issuing hand sanitisers at campus access points.
These measures have been taken as a precaution against the fast-spreading coronavirus, Esterhuizen said.
According to Wits’ head of communications, Shirona Patel, the decision to temporarily disable the biometric system is a response to requests by students and staff in light of the coronavirus strain.
Patel said it will take about a week for the system to deactivate so, for now, students and staff can enter by showing their access cards to security.
Additional security measures will also be put in place, Patel said.
The decision follows that of the University of Pretoria, who last week temporarily halted their access system to prevent the spread of the virus, News24 previously reported.
In a letter to staff and students, the university said it would monitor the situation and work closely with health experts.
On Monday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced the identification of four more Covid-19 cases in South Africa, bringing the total number of cases in the country to seven.
These cases are part of the group of 10 people who travelled to Italy for a ski trip.
Mkhize said the four new cases included a couple in KwaZulu-Natal, a 45-year-old man in the area of Pietermaritzburg, and a 38-year-old man in Pietermaritzburg.
All are currently in quarantine.