Bristol Uni Covid cases up 450 per cent in one week

It is possible that some confirmed cases are missing from the daily updates

Bristol Uni confirmed a further 130 Covid cases today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 656.

That is a rise of 442 per cent in one week, leading to serious concerns that the university’s measures to prevent the spread of Covid are not working.

With over 300 students in lockdown, the University currently has 1,929 cases per 100,000 people. In the City of Bristol as a whole, there are currently 120 cases per 100,000 people, showing that the university is significantly impacted by Covid compared to the rest of the city.

A spokesperson for Bristol University said that the Covid data being provided is collated using the university’s internal self-reporting form, which relies on students and staff to report whether they are self-isolating or are confirmed to have Covid.

“These are then given to Public Health England and Bristol City Council to inform city-wide figures. It is essential that staff and students tell us if they have had a positive result as this helps minimise the risk to others and keep everyone safe.”

The fact that case numbers are not collated from test data, either internal testing or from the NHS, means that there is a possibility that some confirmed cases are not included in the university’s daily updates.

The university has also said that it cannot provide figures on students self-isolating because the data is “constantly changing”. However, the data comes from the same source as the Covid statistics that they are reporting daily, leading to questions on why the university does not want to release this figure publicly.

University academics have been very vocal on Twitter, with one staff member from the theatre department tweeting that she only had three students out of 21 in a face to face class because the rest were self-isolating.

There are currently eight staff members confirmed to have Covid, including one who has been known to be working on campus (the university has now removed that information from their statistics page).

The university has also refused to confirm whether the staff member has been in contact with students, citing privacy concerns, saying: “You can be assured that all necessary measures have been taken to support this member of staff and trace contacts at the University.”

A screenshot of Bristol University’s self-reporting form, showing when it should be used

When asked about the metrics being used to determine whether or not halls go into lockdown, the university said that no such metrics exist, adding: “We have to work with PHE to assess contact patterns and risk of spread.”

The Department for Education (DfE) has three tiers that universities nationally are using, with Tier 1 being a blend of face to face and online teaching, and Tier 3 being a complete move to online teaching.

The university has confirmed that Bristol is currently on Tier 1 “thanks to the efforts of everyone in our community”. They said that changing tiers “is based on a wide risk assessment, not just numbers, and is a decision that would be taken on recommendation from Public Health England.”

A spokesperson said: “We want to thank the many students, colleagues and community members who have supported people in self-isolation in recent weeks. Your kindness and support have been seen and appreciated. Our individual and collective actions are what can help keep us at Tier 1, and it is vital that we continue to work together to keep everyone in our community safe.”

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