Northumbria University says 770 students have tested positive for coronavirus.
A spokesperson for the university said: “As of Friday October 2, we can confirm that we are aware of 770 Northumbria University students who have tested positive for Covid-19, of whom 78 are symptomatic.
“These students are all now self-isolating. Their flatmates and any close contacts are also self-isolating for 14 days in line with government guidance and have been advised to contact NHS119 to book a test as soon as possible should symptoms appear.
“We are supporting all students who are self-isolating, providing them with food and other essential items, as well as welfare support including 24/7 online mental health support and one-to-one support from our wellbeing teams where required which is accessible through multiple channels. We are supporting students with food, laundry, cleaning materials and other welfare support, working together with our Students’ Union, the City Council and other partners.
“Northumbria University students are able to continue their learning remotely with additional academic support in place to make sure they are not being disadvantaged if they miss any face to face teaching during their isolation period.
“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.
More than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to an analysis by PA Media, with nearly 1,800 Covid-19 cases identified among students and staff.
“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.”
Councillor Irim Ali, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and public health, praised the “incredible lengths” Newcastle and Northumbria universities had gone “to create Covid-secure environments”.
She added: “Sadly, a small number of students are undermining these efforts and, at a time when Covid infection rates are rising across the region, it is welcome that the universities are recognising this and warning those who break the rules about their conduct.
“We are working alongside both universities to support those students who are self-isolating, and have mobilised volunteers to deliver food packages and other essential items to those confined to their accommodation.
“But while work continues to control ongoing outbreaks, we need all students to comply with the regulations and guidance.”
A spokesperson for the Northumbria Students’ Union said it had been working with the university and council to “create an environment where students can not only safely access the education they came here for but enjoy life on campus too”.
“We’ve adapted the use of our buildings and the services we provide to ensure that students enjoy a great start to their university experience, whilst taking every precaution to limit the spread of the virus,” they added.
Yesterday the Diocese of Newcastle appealed for volunteers to help 300 students living in private accommodation in Newcastle who have been self-isolating without any food.
An update then read: “We understand that the council and Northumbria University have now recruited enough volunteers to resolve this situation. Thank you to everyone who offered to help.”
Dozens of universities are thought to have been affected by coronavirus outbreaks across the UK.
More than 220 students and staff tested positive for Covid-19 at a campus of the University of Manchester in the last 10 days.
The infection rate in the city for people aged 17 to 21 rose to 745 cases per 100,000 in the last week, the Manchester Evening News revealed.