1,700 MMU students forced to isolate after 127 Covid cases confirmed in halls
MMU’s Birley campus and Cambridge Halls have both been affected
1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University have been told this evening to self-isolate ‘with immediate effect’.
Halls at Birley campus, as well as Cambridge Hall near All Saint’s Park, are to be locked down for a fortnight Manchester Evening News reports.
Cases have soared just days after a 100-strong party was reported in the courtyard of Birley campus.
David Regan, Public Health Director for Manchester, said: “An important part of Manchester’s local response and prevention plan for coronavirus is to keep a close eye on the data and act swiftly and decisively where an outbreak is identified in order to contain the virus. That’s what we’ve done here.”
In an email sent by the Student Communications Team to all students at Man Met, it is stated “you MUST NOT try to visit friends who live in these halls.”
University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady said: “This is the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predictable – and predicted – Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK.
“We warned last month of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country and the time has come for urgent action from ministers and universities to protect staff and students.
“Manchester Metropolitan University shifting teaching online only for foundation and first year students exposes the total absurdity of the current position of trying to continue with blended learning.
“There is no point encouraging students to come to university to self-isolate for a fortnight. This was a wholly predictable and unnecessary crisis. It is unfair on students, on staff and on their local communities.”
Coun Bev Craig, Executive Member for adult health and wellbeing for Manchester council, said: “This is obviously very difficult for all of the young people involved and we will be working with the university and other public services to make sure that any of the students affected get the support they need.
“Students are a vital part of our city, and as part of our plans we expected that numbers could rise as they returned to the city.
“As a vital part of our city, they are also under the same restrictions and rules as our longer term residents, and that’s why this evidence-based approach is being taken early to reduce the spread.
“We understand that local residents may be concerned about this situation. We want to reassure them that the evidence so far suggests that transmission has been within the student community only and has not been more widespread. We are taking this collective action to ensure that remains the case.”
Dr Yasmin Ahmed-Little, consultant in health protection at Public Health England North West, said: “We are working closely with Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester city council and partners to provide public health advice aimed at helping stop the spread of the virus.
“We have seen an increase in positive cases and students with symptoms in the University and all students in these accommodation blocks are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
“It is really important for all students follow the advice from the university and the City Council to stay safe.
“Young people play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus to protect those at much greater risk. If you are one of the students that has been asked to self-isolate please follow the advice and stay in your accommodation to help us prevent the infection from spreading.
An extra testing station has been provided on Denmark Road, at Manchester University’s main campus, while police and council officials have been undertaking engagement in Fallowfield for several weeks.
This comes just weeks after leaders at UoM, Manchester Metropolitan, the University of Salford, the University of Bolton and the Royal Northern College of Music came together and outlined a wide range of measures that are being brought in to try and keep the spread of the virus under control.
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