Two University Halls of residence in the centre of Manchester have been locked down with students being told to self isolate for 14 days.
The public health decision has been taken by Manchester City Council together with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Public Health England to implement a local lockdown for student accommodation at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls – to stop the transmission of the virus among students and prevent it getting into the wider community.
This means that with immediate effect all students in the relevant accommodation will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days even if they have no symptoms. Medical, welfare and emotional wellbeing support will be put in place for them.
The measure has been taken because a spike of Covid-19 cases has been identified in some accommodation blocks. Some 127 students have tested positive with a number of others symptomatic or self-isolating.
David Regan, Public Health Director for Manchester, said: “An important part of Manchester’s Local Response and Prevention Plan for coronavirus is to keep a close eye on the data and act swiftly and decisively where an outbreak is identified in order to contain the virus. That’s what we’ve done here.”
Cllr Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing for Manchester City Council, said: “This is obviously very difficult for all of the young people involved and we will be working with the university and other public services to make sure that any of the students affected get the support they need. Students are a vital part of our city, and as part of our plans we expected that numbers could rise as they returned to the city. As a vital part of our city, they are also under the same restrictions and rules as our longer term residents, and that’s why this evidence-based approach is being taken early to reduce the spread.
“We understand that local residents may be concerned about this situation. We want to reassure them that the evidence so far suggests that transmission has been within the student community only and has not been more widespread. We are taking this collective action to ensure that remains the case.”
Manchester Met has communicated with the affected students and put in place a range of support measures.
It should be noted that the local lockdown does not apply to other Manchester Met accommodation, just that at Birley campus and Cambridge Hall blocks. The university is taking appropriate public health measures in line with national guidance to ensure it is safe for other students and staff to attend as normal.
Dr Yasmin Ahmed-Little, consultant in health protection at Public Health England North West, said: “We are working closely with Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council and partners to provide public health advice aimed at helping stop the spread of the virus.
“We have seen an increase in positive cases and students with symptoms in the University and all students in these accommodation blocks are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
“It is really important for all students follow the advice from the university and the City Council to stay safe. Young people play a crucial role in preventing the spread of coronavirus to protect those at much greater risk. If you are one of the students that has been asked to self-isolate please follow the advice and stay in your accommodation to help us prevent the infection from spreading.”