Northern Ireland news

'Remain calm' plea after coronavirus outbreak at Queen's University

Students at Queen's Elms on the Malone Road. Picture by Mal McCann

STUDENTS living in Queen's University Belfast accommodation have tested positive for Covid-19, it has been confirmed.

It is understood some of the affected students are living in Holly Grove in the Elms Village, although the university did not confirm the specific location.

The university said those affected and those considered to be at risk have been asked to self-isolate "and are being fully supported to do so".

Queen's has urged other students and their families to "remain calm and continue to follow public health guidelines to protect themselves and others".

The university said it was working closely with the Public Health Agency and following its guidance.

"The university has in place robust protocols to minimise the risk of further spread that are being applied," a spokesperson for QUB said.

"The evidence suggests that any transmission of the virus is taking place in social settings."

Read More: Coronavirus: 187 new cases in NI and 430 in the Republic

It is understood the Holly Grove students received an email yesterday informing them of the positive tests.

They have been advised to go for testing and also to self-isolate for 14 days at their current address. Some of the students had already returned home for the weekend.

There are more than 150 bedrooms in the four blocks, which are situated just off Malone Road.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the UK, students have spoken of their worry and confusion at being locked down in their university halls, in a situation described by unions as "shambolic".

Up to 1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University and hundreds at other institutions, including in Edinburgh and Glasgow, are self-isolating following Covid-19 outbreaks.

In Manchester, students are being prevented from leaving by security.

Ellie Jackson, a first-year at Manchester Met, said: "We knew it would be different but we didn't think it would be this different.

"We've been told, if we leave, we can't come back."

Universities UK said the wellbeing of students was "the first priority".

The Labour Party yesterday said the government should consider pausing the return of university students with thousands already isolating amid Covid outbreaks.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said the start of term should be delayed while an "effective, efficient testing system" is put in place.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden defended students going back, however.

"Young people have paid a huge price during this crisis and I think it is only fair to try and get them back - we have got clear guidelines for them to follow," he said.

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