UK Markets close in 7 hrs 59 mins

COVID cases at Sheffield university double overnight as campus infection rates soar

Connor Parker
·3-min read
A sign saying 'help us, send beer' at Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow, where Glasgow University students are being tested at a pop up test centre. (PA)
A sign saying 'help us, send beer' at Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow, where Glasgow University students are being tested at a pop up test centre. (PA)

The number of COVID-19 cases among University of Sheffield students has doubled overnight amid a surge in cases in campuses across the country.

There were 63 new cases among students on Wednesday, up from 32 the day before.

The university said all people within its community who had the virus were self-isolating and had access to support.

“We recognise how difficult it is for students who are starting or returning to university and need to self-isolate because of COVID-19 cases,” a spokesperson said.

To ensure any student self-isolating got the support they need the university said they were doing daily check-ins with them to offer practical and emotional support.

Watch: Students react to being told to self-isolate for 14 days

Read more: The Prime Minister’s father should have followed COVID rules – Downing Street

They also said they were offering additional support to any student staying in university accommodation, including offering access to food and medication; offering them a way to do laundry; and providing them with online activities for them to do.

The university has around 8,000 staff and 29,000 students.

Sheffield is currently on the government’s watchlist after seeing a rise of coronavirus cases but is not currently subject to a local lockdown.

Universities across the country have been hit with coronavirus outbreaks among their students within days of term starting.

COVID-19 cases have led to thousands of students having to self-isolate at universities including Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan and Edinburgh Napier.

The government and individual institutions have been criticised for not doing enough to prepare for the return of students.

Images of students stuck in their student accommodations after flatmates tested positive has sparked anger among parents and politicians.

Students have also been recorded flouting the rules which has been directly linked to outbreaks of COVID-19.

An outbreak at Swansea University was linked back to one individual who attended a party and infected 32 students.

Read more: Liverpool, Warrington and parts of North East face tighter coronavirus restrictions

A student walks past a sign at Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow, where Glasgow University students are being tested at a pop up test centre. (PA)
A student walks past a sign at Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow, where Glasgow University students are being tested at a pop up test centre. (PA)

Up to 200 students were found to have attended a party at a Coventry University halls of residence.

Coventry University said it was “deeply concerned” and condemned what it called “blatant breaches of the rule of six and other guidelines”.

Current government advice says students should be stopped from returning to their home if they test positive while at university.

Earlier this week, education secretary Gavin Williamson was forced to promise students they could return home for Christmas despite of the pandemic.

The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU) on Thursday said students should be allowed to return home from university and study online if they wished to do so.

Larissa Kennedy, NUS president, said students have been left “trapped in halls” and are struggling to access food and wellbeing resources, which she warned is needlessly risking lives.

Read more: Covid-19 vaccine alone won't defeat spread of virus, report warns

Kennedy said: “Over the past few months, students have repeatedly been encouraged to move, ensuring that universities and accommodation companies could collect tuition fees and rent whilst leaving thousands of students trapped in halls, with many struggling to access food, basic amenities and wellbeing resources.

She added that students “deserved better”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for more mental health aid for students caught up in the coronavirus outbreak.

He said to be forced into self-isolation with people you didn’t know was “a very lonely place to be – and a very unusual place.”

“Mental health is a real issue, I think it is going to be more of an issue this autumn because of the added anxiety.

“And we need to be open about that and say to people – do get the support you need.”