Downing College in talks with Public Health representatives as COVID cases rise

An email sent to students said ‘Downing is currently attracting similar levels of concern’ as Homerton

In an email sent out to Downing students today, it was revealed that “Senior College staff met with the University and local Public Health representatives” at 4pm yesterday as a result of rising cases of COVID-19 at the College.

The email warned that “potential measures that were discussed” during the meeting “included confining particular student cohorts to College grounds” as well as “precautionary isolations of buildings or areas where infections were concentrated.” It has been said by a source close to the College that Downing is now on the COVID-19 “watchlist” due to high case numbers.

The assistant bursar in the email also drew a cautionary comparison between the events at Downing over the course of the past couple of days and Homerton College, where a similar meeting between College staff and Public Health representatives was convened last Friday. The email said: “two hours later, 240 students were placed in precautionary self-isolation even if there were no cases within their household.”

The College will have another meeting tomorrow morning with University and local Public Health representatives, and “expect to hold subsequent meetings while our numbers remain high relative to many other Colleges.”

There are currently 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the Downing student body, with 130 students in isolation across 27 households.

The email said that the “total number of infections has risen, even while our asymptomatic tests have, for this week at least, evened out slightly” and no additional households were being ordered to isolate, explaining that the cause for the rise was mainly that more members within already isolating households were contracting the virus.

The email further urged students to demonstrate “even more consideration than usual for the welfare of others, and not less”, after it reported a “small number of incidents over the weekend” of porters being called to households that were isolating due to noise complaints from neighbouring students.

The email also spoke of the risk of infection even amongst fellow students, saying: “Anecdotally, it has been suggested that, within some households, resident students are not concerned with transmission amongst themselves. Government, University, and College advice is that this type of transmission does matter and that you should take all necessary steps to avoid it happening.”

Downing College has been contacted for comment.

Feature image credit: Alice Stephens