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Media Statement
10 May 2020
For Immediate Release

The South African government is currently under pressure to scale up screening and testing for Coronavirus infection in communities. Organizations and institutions of higher learning are actively working on ways to support government in conquering the spread of COVID-19. To this end, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) has designed an innovative new Web APP which will contribute to containing the virus and to monitor COVID-19 related symptoms amongst staff and students.

This App will alleviate pressure on government and other health professionals to provide regular screening for the University community as they go about their work and study on campus. The COVID-19 monitor Web APP which can be accessed through any mobile device, is launched with the view of continued use at SMU both during and after the challenging period of the recent lockdown.

“Our staff and students on campus will be able to daily self-check on their health status by answering a series of questions about symptoms known to be associated with Coronavirus infection, including any possible recent exposures and testing. Based on the responses provided, together with exposure history weighted higher than others, the APP then provides a risk score with relevant recommendations and next steps”, says SMU spokesperson Dr Eric Pule. These risk scores are colour-coded and, indicates either to contact a medical provider and/or call the National Department of Health’s Hotline number that appears on the risk report dashboard. This information would also be immediately available to a restricted number of pre-approved health professionals including the campus health doctor who are part of the SMU COVID-19 response team. The health provider can then advise on the need to either test and/or quarantine or self-isolate. This also allows those who may possibly have reported exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient or who themselves have tested positive while at home or on campus to self-report. The SMU response team would therefore be able to act swiftly with regards to referral for quarantine and/or isolation, as well as contact tracing in collaboration with the District Health Response team.

The Web APP developed by Prof Ayo-Yusuf at no cost to the University, will be used only as a screening tool and it is not intended to replace a consultation with a medical professional. The APP further provides a link to the National Department of Health Coronavirus website (https://sacoronavirus.co.za/) for the latest information on available resources, press releases and toolkits to support staying healthy.

“We pride ourselves as being the first University to launch such a real time screening tool for staff and students before returning to campus in order to ensure collective safety. This has received the support of the Student Representative Council and organised Labour”, says SMU spokesperson Dr Eric Pule.

This is a web App available through the SMU website which is zero-rated (no cost) by all major mobile network providers, thus the data requirement to use the App is zero. Due to the lag time between infection and appearance of COVID-19 symptoms, the University’s Web APP Monitor permits staff and students to in real time report early symptoms, track and understand the trajectory of their symptoms through this self-screening process. Especially important as we move into the Flu season, the APP can be used regularly to ensure early warning when the user feels unwell or becomes aware of exposure to any known COVID-19 positive person. The SMU COVID-19 Monitor web APP will be accessible to all students, staff and joint appointees working at the Doctor George Mukhari Academic Hospital.

“The APP will support the plans by the Department of Higher Education Training, Science and Technology to save the academic year 2020, while also appropriately responding to the call to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it will contribute and support the recommended 360-degree screening/testing of students and staff returning to our campus”, emphasized Dr Pule.

The APP can be directly accessed as often as required via any mobile device using a link that would be sent to all students and staff by SMS and email.

Issued by the Marketing & Communication
For more details, please contact Dr Eric Pule, email address eric.pule@smu.ac.za
Phone 012 521 4563 Cell: 0635035587
Website: www.smu.ac.za