Newcastle and Northumbria record 1,600 Covid cases in a week

Significant rise in cases confirmed as universities move tuition online

October 8, 2020
Newcastle University
Source: iStock

Universities in Newcastle have recorded 1,600 cases of coronavirus among staff and students in the past week.

Newcastle University said that 1,003 students and 12 members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past seven days, a massive rise on the total of 94 recorded in the previous week, although there was a day’s overlap in the data.

Northumbria University said that 619 students had self-reported confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past week. The institution previously said that it had recorded 770 cases between 21 September and 2 October, but a spokeswoman said that the latest figures include a day’s overlap.

The spike in cases was announced as both institutions moved their teaching online.

A Newcastle spokeswoman said that the “overwhelming majority of cases [were] from social and residential settings”.

“We expected to see cases rise in light of the increase in cases both locally and nationally and all HE institutions have to manage this on an ongoing basis,” the spokeswoman said. 

“We feel confident that we have appropriate measures in place to protect us all while we are on campus and to reduce the potential for transmission in our community.”

All courses at Newcastle are being conducted online, “except where present-in-person sessions are essential to meet programme learning outcomes or satisfy accreditation requirements”.

The move to online tuition followed similar decisions by the universities of Sheffield and Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Members of the University and College Union of Northumbria have voted to ballot for industrial action over the handling of the return to campus and called for the vice-chancellor, Andrew Wathey, to resign.

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