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1st October 2020

UoM release Covid figures but students fear they could be much higher

UoM’s Covid figures only include positive results reported to the University through an “agreed process”
UoM release Covid figures but students fear they could be much higher
Photo: Giuseppe Moscato @ Flickr

The University of Manchester has revealed that 221 of its staff and students have tested positive for coronavirus – but there are fears the numbers could be much higher in reality.

After coming under pressure from campus unions, the University said it would publish daily figures to be as “transparent as possible”.

But the figures only include positive results reported to the University through an “agreed process” – which some students have told The Mancunion they didn’t even know existed.

Others said they found the process complicated, difficult to navigate, and that students wouldn’t feel comfortable telling the University about their symptoms.

Joss Edwards, a second-year Geography student who has tested positive for the virus, said he had “no idea” you were supposed to report symptoms.

He said: “I had no idea they wanted you to do that, I would happily tell them if they asked me.

“Basically everyone we know is isolating, we counted this morning and it’s 100+ people we personally know, so I would assume that a lot of people don’t know the University want you to report it.”

A second-year politics student with symptoms said they had reported but it was a “difficult” process.

They told The Mancunion: “It just said contact your student support team but I didn’t know who that was.

“I know four other houses that are currently isolating. When I mentioned to them that they were supposed to report they didn’t see the need.

“Some of them also had the view that it wasn’t really the University’s business. I think people will only report if they are going to be actively missing teaching or if they are severely ill and need help shopping.

“Second and third years are less likely to need help shopping anyway as they have more friends to shop for them.”

Maisie Woodford, a third-year Maths student who also has virus, said she had just told her academic advisor.

She said: “I’ve told my academic advisor but I’m not formally reporting it. I don’t really see the point, if it were an exam period or something or my symptoms worsened to the point I couldn’t even attend online lectures I would.

“The email they sent out today about it just seems like they’re trying to look like the good guys.”

The University said reporting cases is a “major part” of its new measures to keep students safe and bosses insist that “everyone will be supported” by the University while they are recovering.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, UoM’s Vice-Chancellor, said the University figures were a “serious concern”.

She said: “The initial confirmed case figures for students are high and a cause for concern. They are consistent with infection rates reported by many other universities and for this age group in the North of England.

“We are one of the largest universities in the UK with around 40,000 students, so we expected our initial confirmed case numbers to be high, but this is still a serious concern.”

Manchester Evening News has revealed that the infection rate for people aged 17 to 21 in Manchester has risen to a stunning 745 cases per 100,000 people in the past week.

The number of first-year flats in University of Manchester accommodation that are isolating is currently unknown.

Last Friday, more than 1,500 students at Manchester Metropolitan University were told to stay in their flats and self-isolate for 14 days, following a coronavirus outbreak on their campus.

In the past week there have been large parties taking place across Fallowfield campus – where UoM has 7 halls of residence.

The University issued a warning that students could face a curfew across all halls along with “other restrictive measures” if students did not respect social distancing guidelines.

Josh Sandiford

Josh Sandiford

Deputy Editor

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