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7th October 2020

Tensions rise in Fallowfield, the country’s Covid hotspot

Students living in Fallowfield have reported incidents of aggression in the past week
Tensions rise in Fallowfield, the country’s Covid hotspot
Photo: James Shuttleworth @ The Mancunion

It hasn’t been long since students returned to Fallowfield, bringing not only platform shoes and flared trousers, but a massive spike in Covid cases.

The South Manchester suburb has found itself as the country’s number-one coronavirus hotspot, with a stunning 612 cases in the 7 days up to the 3rd of October.

And it seems the outbreak is getting to residents and undergraduates alike.

Students living in Fallowfield have reported multiple incidents of aggression towards them in the past week, with perpetrators allegedly weaponizing the fear of Covid-19 transmission. 

On the 29th September, a group of four students reported an alleged incident on a bus. University of Manchester student, Leanne Durojaiye, said she was on the way back to Fallowfield when a man began threatening them.

“Me and 3 of my friends were on the bus back to Fallowfield and the man in question, who was sat directly behind them, took off his mask to cough violently,” she said. “My friends moved away and I asked him if he could please put it back on.”

That’s when, according to Durojaiye, he began to hurl abuse at them.

“He instantly hurled more abuse, calling us slags and saying he’ll cough if he wants, threatening to spit on us and much more,” she claimed. 

Wearing a face covering is mandatory on all public transport in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Greater Manchester Police said they were aware of the incident but no arrests had been made.

In a separate incident on the 1st October, a Manchester Metropolitan student alleged that a man spat on front doors on Brailsford Road. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said a nearby couple came to warn them. 

“We couldn’t understand why but made sure to clean the door with anti-bac,” they said. “Then maybe half an hour later my housemate shouted me saying there was someone lurking about. I also saw the neighbours leaving their house to pursue him, I did the same.” 

GMP told The Mancunion they had been called out to a report that a man was spitting on doors at 9 pm.

On a post on Manchester Students’ Group, many students expressed shock and disgust at the alleged incident. 

One student commented: “Thanks for letting us know. People keep telling me I’m being over-cautious in using hand-gel after touching the front door handle but I knew there’d be someone out there trying to weaponise covid.”

The Mancunion contacted Jade Mary Doswell, Labour Councillor for Fallowfield, for a response to both incidents.

Doswell said: “Threats, spitting and attempting to spread Covid-19 is absolutely not acceptable. We all have to be respectful of everyone else who lives and studies in Manchester. If anyone does experience being spat at or threatened I’d urge them to report it to the police via their online reporting service.

Generally, our students and long-term residents live together quite harmoniously and we even have long term residents involved in delivering supplies to students via our Fallowfield mutual aid group.

“At the moment we are doing our best to manage a crisis of the Government’s making. Students were brought back too early against the warnings of local government and the teaching unions.”

With increased media coverage of student misbehaviour, tension between the thousands of students who have moved to Manchester and local residents is high.

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