12 universities set up Covid testing – as students banned from parties

12 universities set up their own Covid testing – as thousands of students are banned from going to parties or pubs at weekend after outbreaks on TEN campuses across UK

  • Student outbreaks recorded in Exeter, Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow
  • Eleven universities in England and one in Wales set up their own testing facilities
  • It comes as thousands of Scottish students are told not to go pubs or parties 

A dozen universities in England and Wales have set up their own Covid-19 testing facilities as thousands of students in Scotland are banned from going to parties and pubs this weekend – as outbreaks are recorded on at least 10 campuses across the UK.

Up to 125 students have contacted coronavirus across three universities in Edinburgh, worsening the state of affairs Scottish universities after outbreaks in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. 

Institutions have said they will make it ‘absolutely clear’ for those studying that parties will not be tolerated.

Despite recent outbreaks at at least 10 universities, no students have been taken to hospital. 

Around 600 students are self-isolating at Glasgow University, which has set up its own mobile testing unit, while students are warned not to attend parties and pubs this weekend

At least a dozen other universities in England and Wales have brought in their own testing facilities to monitor for potential outbreaks 

COVID-19 outbreaks at UK universities 

Exeter University 

Abertay University (Dundee)

Aberdeen University

Liverpool University 

Glasgow University 

Leeds University 

Manchester Metropolitan University

Edinburgh Napier University

University of Edinburgh

Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh)

They went as far to say that pupils will not be allow to interact with anyone who does not live in their halls or house. 

It comes as the likes of Nottingham University set up its own testing facilities to monitor for an outbreak, while Exeter has brought in its own private tests. 

Professor Jonathan Ball from Nottingham University said its scheme had potentially prevented an outbreak. 

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘We’ve had a pilot running with vet students they started towards the end of July, we’ve been weekly testing them and they’ve been taking their own swabs. 

‘We’ve had a single case that was an asymptomatic person, because of our advice they isolated, their household isolated. We’ve continued testing three weeks on and we’ve had no more cases.

‘We were able to identify it quickly and potentially stop an outbreak before it started.’

If a positive test is returned at the university, it has to apply for a pillar two test from the Government, in order for it to be officially registered as part of the track and trace system. 

Professor Powell explained why the scheme was so important: ‘It’s been known for sometime that universities are particularly high risk settings. When you have lots of very young people very often somebody who’s infected at that age will show very mild symptoms and often no symptoms at all so they won’t even know they’re infected.

‘We’re asking them to live together in fairly large numbers so there is the potential for rapid spread of the virus and therefore we need to be aware of that and do all we can to control that.’ 

Universities Scotland said the stricter restrictions were a ‘necessary step at this crucial moment of managing the virus in the student population, to protect students and the wider community’.

The new rules say institutions will ‘make absolutely clear to students that there must be no parties, and no socialising outside their households’.

They add: ‘This weekend, the first of the new tighter Scottish government guidance, we will require students to avoid all socialising outside of their households and outside of their accommodation.

‘We will ask them not to go to bars or other hospitality venues.’

Eleven universities in England and one in Wales set up their own testing facilities.

So far the majority of outbreaks have been recorded in Scotland, but there have been student Covid-19 cases at universities in Leeds, Exeter, Liverpool and Manchester. 

Students in Scotland put up post-it notes in their windows, with one writing ‘Send drink’ and another lamenting the fact they could not smoke while in isolation.

At least 600 have had to confine themselves to their student accommodation after 124 students caught the virus at the Glasgow university.

Meanwhile Mr Hancock said he does not want students to have to stay at their institutions over the Christmas break.

He said: ‘I don’t want to have a situation like that, and I very much hope we can avoid it,’ he said.

Asked if it was under consideration, he said: ‘I’ve learned not to rule things out. And one of the challenges we have is making sure that people are as safe as possible and that includes not spreading between the generations, but… this is not our goal.’

Earlier this week it was revealed 500 students were self-isolating at Abertay University in Dundee after one confirmed case, while 80 students and seven staff were confirmed to have coronavirus at the University of Liverpool. 

Students living in IQ Parker House Students accommodation in Dundee were asked to self isolate due to an outbreak. They entertained themselves by posting messages on the windows

There have also been ‘a number’ of confirmed cases at Aberdeen University. 

The outbreaks across Scotland have prompted a strong warning against house parties. 

During yesterday’s coronavirus briefing national clinical director, Jason Leitch, said: ‘We need you not to have house parties, I could not be more clear.’

Nicola Sturgeon said the ‘significant outbreak at the University of Glasgow’ had impacted on the daily Covid-19 infection figure for the NHS Greater Glasgow area.

A total of 224 cases were recorded across the health board area in the past day, she said.

Prof Leitch said he had spoken to student leaders about the latest restrictions on Tuesday through the National Union of Students.

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