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Government plans to force universities into a two-week lockdown will increase infections, experts warn


The aforementioned Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a proposal last month to ban students for two weeks (file photo)

The government's plans to bring students home for Christmas by forcing universities into a two-week lockdown in December will increase Covid-19 infections, experts have warned.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a proposal last month to self-isolate students between December 8 and 22.

Earlier on, he told Commons: "We will work with universities to ensure that all students are supported in returning home safely and spending Christmas with loved ones if they so choose."

But pandemic influenza behavioral science group Ellen Brooks-Pollock told BBC Radio 4's Today Program, “Two weeks might be enough for students living in smaller households and living with two or three other people, but in these dormitories where there are really many people living together could lead to an outbreak in these dormitories. & # 39;

She added, "And if there are already common infections, many of which are not being observed, two weeks at the end of the semester would not be long enough: it's essentially too late."

University Secretary Michelle Donelan is expected to have talks today to increase support for the plan, which The Guardian says will keep students on campus while they are taught online.

The Vice Chancellors were concerned about the plan, however, and the heads of higher education expressed doubts that large numbers of students would be sent home by public transport in one day.

This is followed by Boris Johnson's commitment to "bring the students home safely for Christmas" despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases at universities.

Sheffield University reported 588 student infections in the week ended October 8, an infection rate of 2,028 per 100,000 people – the standard measure for outbreak analysis.

A sign that was seen in a hall in Manchester earlier this month. Boris Johnson has pledged to "get students home safely for Christmas" despite the rising number of cases in universities

A sign that was seen in a hall in Manchester earlier this month. Boris Johnson has pledged to "get students home safely for Christmas" despite the rising number of cases in universities

Students Lauren Watson (left) and Olivia Austin at The Forge student accommodation at Sheffield Hallam University, where the number of Covid-19 cases has increased

Students Lauren Watson (left) and Olivia Austin at The Forge student accommodation at Sheffield Hallam University, where the number of Covid-19 cases has increased

Outbreaks in student areas are significantly worse than other parts of the country, and one part of Manchester has been shown to have 1 in 20 people carrying the disease.

Local positive test data from earlier this month showed Covid-19 infection rates per person were up to seven times higher than the worst hit cities overall and up to 45 times higher than the UK average.

The students are known to live in large households, mingle with strangers, and lead very active social lives. You arguably create the ideal environment for a Covid-19 outbreak.

Data analyzed by The Times shows that in Manchester's Fallowfield – a thriving student suburb of the city – five percent of people tested positive for the disease in the week leading up to October 2.

This corresponds to a weekly coronavirus infection rate of almost 5,000 cases per 100,000 people.

A rate per 100,000 is the standard way to measure Covid-19 infections, although only about 15,000 people live in Fallowfield.

Students draw on Quayside in Newcastle during their first contact with Newcastle University since joining over a week ago amid the spread of the coronavirus

Students draw on Quayside in Newcastle during their first contact with Newcastle University since joining over a week ago amid the spread of the coronavirus

Data shows that in Fallowfield, Manchester - a thriving student suburb of the city - five percent of people tested positive for the disease in the week leading up to October 2

Data shows that in Fallowfield, Manchester – a thriving student suburb of the city – five percent of people tested positive for the disease in the week leading up to October 2

WHICH 10 STUDENT AREAS HAVE THE WORST OUTBREAKS?

This is what Covid-19 infection rates look like in some of the hardest-hit student areas in England.

The rates were calculated by The Times as positive tests per 100,000 population between September 26 and October 2.

All areas have a population less than 100,000, but the rate is a standardized measure used nationwide to make comparison easier.

  1. Fallowfield Central, Manchester (4,972 per 100,000)
  2. University Park, Lenton Abbey & Jubilee Campus, Nottingham (4,093)
  3. Endcliffe & Ranmoor, Sheffield (3,241)
  4. Lady barn, Manchester (3,073)
  5. Rusholme East, Manchester (2,425)
  6. Hyde Park Corner, Leeds (2,260)
  7. University & small wooden house, Leeds (2,032)
  8. Pennsylvania & University, Exeter (1,918)
  9. Shieldfield & Heaton Park, Newcastle (1,609)
  10. Broomhall, Sheffield (1,604)

ENGLAND AVERAGE: 111 per 100,000

This rate dwarfs that of the hotspot when taking entire parish areas into account – Nottingham had the highest rate for the entire area at 689 cases per 100,000.

Sarah Doran, a public health advisor who leads Manchester's response to Covid-19, said a pilot project to mass screen students in dormitories had resulted in high numbers.

Public health officials distributed hundreds of tests to caged students in Manchester Metropolitan University dormitories in late September.

Every fourth patient was found Covid-19 (272 out of 640 tests) after severe outbreaks in two groups of MMU halls in September.

While Nottingham, the worst-hit city according to the Press Association, has the highest rate of any local authority at around 0.06 percent of the infected population, rates in university districts were significantly higher.

One of Nottingham's own student districts – University Park, Lenton Abbey & Jubilee Campus – was the second worst hit area after Fallowfield.

There, 451 people tested positive in the week ended October 2, indicating that four percent of the population had been diagnosed.

England's deputy chief physician. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned Monday that cases from younger people are spreading to the more vulnerable older generation.

Speaking at a # 10 press conference, he said that while the epidemic had "started" in younger people in recent weeks, there was "clear evidence of a gradual spread to older age groups" in the hardest hit areas.

An Education Department spokesman said last night, “All students can go home for Christmas if they wish.

“However, when students travel home we need to make sure they do so in a way that minimizes the risk of spreading the virus, and the date that universities have to stop personal tuition will be an important part of that.

"We will provide details on this shortly."

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