Covid on campus: Calls to halt lectures after 80 students and seven staff catch virus at Liverpool University while 500 undergraduates isolate in Dundee halls after single positive case
- At least 80 students and seven staff contracted Covid-19 at Liverpool University
- Meanwhile 500 Abertay University students are self-isolating after one case
- Scottish NHS staff are looking for anyone who met the student at Parker House
There are calls to halt lectures at Liverpool University after 80 students and and seven staff caught coronavirus – while 500 undergraduates are isolating at halls in Dundee after a single confirmed case.
NHS Tayside in Scotland is contacting any close contacts of the student at Abertay University – with all residents of their halls being told to self-isolate until tracing has been completed.
Dr Daniel Chandler, associate director of public health, said: ‘We know from outbreaks in other university settings across Scotland that the virus can spread very quickly in student accommodation.
All 500 students at Parker House halls in Dundee are self-isolating after one of their peers contracted coronavirus
‘Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we are contacting all residents of Parker House and advising them to self-isolate immediately.’
‘Further investigation and contact tracing are continuing and we will review this advice in the coming days.’
Meanwhile union members in Liverpool are seeking assurances they will not vulnerable staff will have to arrive in campus.
At least 80 students at Liverpool University have contracted coronavirus, along with seven staff
Martyn Moss, UCU regional official, said: ‘Liverpool’s universities have to immediately heed the call from staff and halt unnecessary in-person teaching.
‘The safety of staff, students and the local community has to be the number one priority.
‘More widely, the university sector and the government must address this public health crisis immediately. It is not enough to plan to manage Covid outbreaks when we could be working to prevent them.’
He added: ‘Without urgent action, it will be impossible for universities to avoid becoming incubators of Covid and university communities becoming transmission hotspots.’
Boris Johnson last night assured the country that schools and universities would remain open, despite tighter coronavirus restrictions coming into force from Thursday.
Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, said: ‘For Boris Johnson to say that universities should stay open whilst we are seeing reports of Covid outbreaks on campuses throughout the UK is an abdication of responsibility and it shows how disconnected he is from the facts on the ground.
‘Our institutions never closed, even during the national lockdown. Staff moved teaching online and continued to deliver for their students and support them.
Abertay University in Dundee said it is supporting students while they are self-isolating due to the outbreak
‘The Prime Minister should go back to that arrangement and instruct all staff to work from home.’
Professor Louise Kenny, executive pro-vice-chancellor for the faculty of health and life sciences at the University of Liverpool, has said face-to-face teaching is ‘an essential component’ of many degree courses.
She said: ‘Like other members of Liverpool’s population, university students and staff members are also experiencing more Covid-19 cases.
‘Our investment in an on-campus testing facility for staff and students displaying symptoms means that we are in a position to report on the numbers in our community who test positive and, importantly, to act quickly to stop the spread.’
Professor Nigel Seaton, principal of Abertay University, said, ‘Our students in Parker House are being supported to self-isolate safely and we will remain in regular daily contact with them.
‘The university already has enhanced cleaning and safety measures in place on campus, in line with national guidance, and the campus will remain open.
‘We have contacted students and staff to remind them of their personal responsibilities in relation to Covid safety and to inform them of today’s changes in Scottish Government guidance.’
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