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University Covid cases triple in last week of June

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Confirmed cases of Coronavirus have risen by 236% in the last 7 days of June, as the number of positive test results rose rapidly across the campus.

In the last 7 days of data to the 30th June, 111 cases were reported through the University’s Connect and Protect service on the Loughborough campus, most of which were detected through their asymptomatic screening programme, which is running hundreds of tests each week.

This is a significant increase from the 33 cases which were registered in the previous 7 day period, with just 15 a week before that.

The expansion in cases has largely been attributed to the new Delta variant (initially detected in India), which is thought to be around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) variant that was previously dominant across the UK.

As a result, cases across the town have reached their highest levels since the middle of February, close to the height of the peak of the second wave.

The majority of infections from the new variant have, until now, been caused by educational settings – but entertainment and social settings have also become significant spreaders, especially among young people.

In the last full week of data, 102 of the 264 cases detected in Charnwood were of from 20-24 year olds, reflecting the national trend.

Despite this, there has been little discernible increase in deaths and hospitalisations in the borough, as the vaccination program takes effect.

The University also recorded the most weekly cases identified by their Connect and Protect scheme since mid-November, despite many students leaving the campus for the summer.

The increase in the number of cases from young people has been put down to their increased likelihood to socialise in groups as well as the lack of vaccinations amongst that age group – just 3,673 people under the age of 25 had received both vaccinations in the borough by July 3rd, of which just 457 lived in the University.

So far, 3,241 under 25s have received at least one dose of the vaccine in the University area.

To encourage further uptake of the vaccine, additional clinics are being held in Loughborough Hospital on July 4th, and at the Charnwood Council Offices on 10th and 13th July – of which the latter are drop-ins for anyone over the age of 18.

These follow previous drop-in sessions which have been held throughout the last month in an attempt to both increase the number of vaccinated young people, and reduce the number of cases in the borough which are edging towards being above the national average once again.

End of the Year

The increase in cases comes at the end of the academic year, when students begin to move out of their accommodation across the town.

However, the increase in self-isolating students has meant many have missed deadlines on their tenancies – resulting in some students being forced out of their properties by some commercial landlords, in what the University’s Chief Operating Officer has called unacceptable.

He warned landlords following this practice that the university were documenting these cases, and that they should not “expect students to accept tenancies” with them in the future.

The University has extended tenancies for students until the middle of the month, and are expected to extend these if self-isolation is required.

In a recent email, they also advised all students returning to their permanent addresses for the summer to take a test directly before they leave in addition to weekly testing already required.

The hope will be to reduce the spread of the virus both within the university and to prevent it spilling over to students’ families.

Due to the delay to the easing of the lockdown measures until July 19th, the Students’ Union has been unable to host additional events – whilst the University has been forced to keep Hall Balls a socially-distanced affair.

It is hoped that Graduation, starting on the 19th for a fortnight, will be able to go ahead without restrictions.

 

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LSU Media Technical Officer 2020-21 & former LSUTV Station Manager 2019-20. National Student Television Association Secretary 2020-22.

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