At least 770 students at the UK’s Northumbria University have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus, leading to hundreds of other pupils to self-isolate.
In a statement on Friday, a university spokesman said that of the 770, 78 were symptomatic and all the infected students and their close contacts were currently self-isolating for 14 days in line with the government guidelines, the BBC reported.
“The increase in numbers comes in the week after students returned to university and reflects the good access to and availability of testing, as well as rigorous and robust reporting systems.
“In parts of the UK where universities started term earlier, numbers of student cases surged in induction week, and then reduced.
“We are making it clear to students that if they break the rules they will be subject to fines from police and disciplinary action by the universities which may include fines, final warnings or expulsion.
“Both Northumbria and Newcastle universities have Covid response teams on call that are working closely with NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England North East and the City to identify and get in touch with anyone who has been in close contact with those affected,” the spokesman added.
So far, some 56 universities across the UK have reported at least one confirmed case.
There have been more than 200 cases at the University of Sheffield and 177 at University of Liverpool.
Following the development at Northumbria, the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers, said that it warned that it was “far too soon for a mass return to campus”, the BBC reported.
“We told Northumbria University they had a civic duty to put the health of staff, students and the local community first and we take no pleasure in now seeing another preventable crisis play out.
“We warned last month that, given the current restrictions in the region, the direction of the infection rate and the problems with test and trace, it was clearly far too soon for a mass return to campus,” the Union added.