Stellenbosch University announced on Friday that it had cancelled graduation ceremonies scheduled for March 31 to April 3 owing to fears over the coronavirus. 

The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic on Wednesday. 

In South Africa, as of Friday at 5pm, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had confirmed at least 24 people testing positive for Covid-19. The minister said more than 800 people had been tested and there had been no fatalities in the country. 

Dr Ronel Retief, the university registrar, said their contingency committee had taken a decision to cancel the graduation ceremonies scheduled for March 31 to April 3. This decision, which was not taken lightly, will mitigate the risks associated with large gatherings and exposure to individuals who may have travelled internationally.

“We realise the importance of graduation in the lives of our students, parents, family and friends and it is regrettable that we find ourselves in this situation. The World Health Organisation has emphasised that the pandemic is a global, but also an ‘individual’ responsibility, referring to governments, companies, institutions, organisations and all citizens,” said Retief.

Retief said the graduates would be awarded with their certificates and academic records in April.