Revellers hit locked down Newcastle after 770 students at one university test positive for Covid


Revellers last night hit the streets of locked down Newcastle after 770 students at a university in the city tested positive for coronavirus. Youngsters flouted the ‘Rule of Six’ and social distancing guidelines as they queued up outside kebab shops when the 10pm curfew kicked in.

Police officers wearing masks and gloves tried to separate the groups and were seen talking to a McDonald’s manager as a crowd of around 20 stood outside. It comes as 770 students tested positive for coronavirus in Newcastle, with a university union blaming Northumbria University for reopening its campus and causing the ‘preventable’ public health crisis.

All the students in the area – which was branded England’s new coronavirus hotspot – are self-isolating for 14 days along with their flatmates and close contacts. The students have posted signs on their windows reading ‘Covid +’ and ‘send beer’ as they are provided with food, laundry, cleaning materials and welfare support by authorities and the city council.

Those who miss out on face-to-face tuition during their quarantine will also receive additional academic support from the university. A spokesman said the increase in cases comes in the week after students returned to the area and ‘reflects the good access to and availability of testing as well as rigorous and robust reporting systems’.

They refused to say if the outbreak has taken place in one hall of residence or multiple halls and private flats across Newcastle as infections in the city rose by 60 per cent to a rate of 250 cases per 100,000 this week. But the University and College Union blamed the outbreak on the decision by university authorities to open up their campus to students, suggesting they are responsible for the ‘preventable crisis’.

General-Secretary Jo Grady said: ‘We warned last month that, given the current restrictions in the region, the direction of the infection rate and the problems with test and trace, it was clearly far too soon for a mass return to campus. We told Northumbria University they had a civic duty to put the health of staff, students and the local community first and we take no pleasure in now seeing another preventable crisis play out. The university sector and the Government must address this public health crisis immediately.’

At least 50 universities across the UK are now dealing with confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks amid fears Britain’s second wave is well underway, with 1,800 cases identified among students and staff. Glasgow University has seen 124 confirmed cases and there have been 221 recorded at Manchester University as thousands of lockdown-weary students flocked to campuses to start term on September 21.

As the country reeled from mounting Covid-19 infections in UK universities:

  • Halton, in Cheshire, rose to sixth place in the UK after cases spiked 22 per cent to 195 per 100,000;
  • Sunderland hit eight position, behind Bolton, after a 42 per cent spike took it to 172 cases per 100,000;
  • Sefton, in Merseyside, was next with a 64 per cent spike taking its case rate to 167 per 100,000, while Bury, in Greater Manchester, came tenth with a six per cent rise and 166 per 100,000;
  • Middlesbrough recorded one of the highest rises in coronavirus cases in the country after infections shot up 136 per cent to 116 per 100,000;
  • Darlington also saw its infections leap by 210 per cent, taking its case rate to 90 per 100,000.

Police officers wearing face masks attempt to disperse a crowd of revellers in Newcastle on Friday night as they wait outside a kebab shop in the city centre

Police officers wearing blue face masks try to break up a group of revellers in Newcastle city centre on Friday night as they work to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants

Police officers wearing blue face masks try to break up a group of revellers in Newcastle city centre on Friday night as they work to enforce the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants

A large crowd - who are breaking the 'Rule of Six' - in Newcastle city centre is spoken to by police officers who try to break them up

A large crowd – who are breaking the ‘Rule of Six’ – in Newcastle city centre is spoken to by police officers who try to break them up

A group of women in Middlesbrough make the most of their Friday night before even stronger regulations are brought into place on Saturday, with one woman catching a ride on a friend

A group of women in Middlesbrough make the most of their Friday night before even stronger regulations are brought into place on Saturday, with one woman catching a ride on a friend

One girl, wearing no shoes, climbs some steps as her friends look on in Middlesbrough on Friday evening before tougher drinking regulations are enforced. At least 50 universities across the UK are now dealing with confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks amid fears Britain's second wave is well underway

One girl, wearing no shoes, climbs some steps as her friends look on in Middlesbrough on Friday evening before tougher drinking regulations are enforced. At least 50 universities across the UK are now dealing with confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks amid fears Britain’s second wave is well underway

Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham are all locked down, while Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will be locked down from Sunday. Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Darlington are open

Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham are all locked down, while Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will be locked down from Sunday. Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Darlington are open 

All England's top ten coronavirus hotspots are in the North, revealing its North-South divide. Newcastle, which contains the Northumbria University outbreak, is one on the list

All England’s top ten coronavirus hotspots are in the North, revealing its North-South divide. Newcastle, which contains the Northumbria University outbreak, is one on the list

Nearly 800 students have tested positive for coronavirus in Newcastle as one of the UK's biggest university unions blamed Northumbria University for reopening the campus and causing the 'preventable' public health crisis (pictured, Northumbria University students posed for photos at windows in Shieldfield as they posted signs reading 'send beer')

Nearly 800 students have tested positive for coronavirus in Newcastle as one of the UK’s biggest university unions blamed Northumbria University for reopening the campus and causing the ‘preventable’ public health crisis (pictured, Northumbria University students posed for photos at windows in Shieldfield as they posted signs reading ‘send beer’)

Northumbria University students posed for photos at windows in Shieldfield as they posted signs reading 'send beer' as one male student smiles at onlookers

Northumbria University students posed for photos at windows in Shieldfield as they posted signs reading ‘send beer’ as one male student smiles at onlookers

Nearly 800 students have tested positive for coronavirus in Newcastle as one of the UK's biggest university unions blamed Northumbria University for reopening the campus and causing the 'preventable' public health crisis

Nearly 800 students have tested positive for coronavirus in Newcastle as one of the UK’s biggest university unions blamed Northumbria University for reopening the campus and causing the ‘preventable’ public health crisis 

Revellers and students enjoyed a wet and cold night on the town in Newcastle on Wednesday night. The city was today named England's coronavirus epicentre (it is not known if the people in this picture tested positive for coronavirus)

Revellers and students enjoyed a wet and cold night on the town in Newcastle on Wednesday night. The city was today named England’s coronavirus epicentre (it is not known if the people in this picture tested positive for coronavirus)

 

 

Union demands students ‘trapped in halls’ be allowed to return home from university and study online if they want as Covid outbreaks sweep UK campuses 

Students ‘trapped in halls’ should be allowed to return home from university and study online if they wish to do so, unions have demanded. 

The National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU) have called for urgent action from the Government as coronavirus outbreaks have hit university campuses across the UK.

Larissa Kennedy, NUS president, said students have been left struggling to access food and wellbeing resources, which she warned is needlessly risking lives.

It comes after Boris Johnson said students will be able to go home for Christmas – despite Covid-19 cases rising ‘quite rapidly’ among young people.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, Gavin Williamson suggested a shift to online learning could be applied in ‘specific cases’ to enable students to safely return home at the end of term to be with their families over the festive period.

But the education unions are calling for a move to online learning wherever possible – and they say students should be given a safe way to leave campus now if they want to.

Students should not face any financial detriment for giving up accommodation, or choosing to defer or leave university, they say.

Student Becca Croft told ITV that her whole flat tested positive for the disease.

She said: ‘There was a bit of a panic at first when we realised we all needed to start self isolating. We managed to get a shop sorted but it took about a week.’

A member of staff at Northumbria University who asked to remain anonymous said there was more face-to-face teaching there than at other universities in the region.

The source said: ‘We have high anxiety levels among staff and students who have a sense that the establishment is not listening to those anxieties about face-to-face teaching.

‘There’s a lot of frustration because almost everything that we deliver face-to-face could be done much more safely online.

‘There’s confusion about why we are not following other universities in the region who I think moved online earlier, pre-empting this.’

The member of staff said many students were staying away from face-to-face sessions, with some lessons attracting fewer than half the course members.

Many Northumbria University undergraduates live at their family homes rather than staying in student accommodation, so may be staying away to protect relatives, the employee said.

The source added: ‘We are worried about their access to full teaching, this is not just about anxiety for health but fairness and who is able to access teaching, and who is not.’

A spokesman for the university said: ‘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.

‘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.’

They added: ‘Both Northumbria and Newcastle universities have Covid response teams on call that are working closely with NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England North East and the City to identify and get in touch with anyone who has been in close contact with those affected.’ Students also being encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app. 

Revellers and students enjoyed a night on the town in Newcastle on Wednesday. Several were seen wearing protective face masks

Revellers and students enjoyed a night on the town in Newcastle on Wednesday. Several were seen wearing protective face masks

Revellers were seen talking to the police as they took to the streets of Newcastle on Wednesday. Infections in Newcastle have spiralled by 60 per cent to a rate of 250 cases per 100,000, according to health officials

Revellers were seen talking to the police as they took to the streets of Newcastle on Wednesday. Infections in Newcastle have spiralled by 60 per cent to a rate of 250 cases per 100,000, according to health officials

Revellers were seen posing for pictures as they took to the streets of Newcastle for a night out. Seven partygoers are pictured here

Revellers were seen posing for pictures as they took to the streets of Newcastle for a night out. Seven partygoers are pictured here

Four revellers huddled underneath an umbrella to shelter from the rain as they enjoyed a night out in Newcastle on Wednesday

Four revellers huddled underneath an umbrella to shelter from the rain as they enjoyed a night out in Newcastle on Wednesday

A large group of partygoers gather outside a takeaway in Newcastle on their wet and cold night out in the city

A large group of partygoers gather outside a takeaway in Newcastle on their wet and cold night out in the city

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.’

She added: ‘While in Newcastle, it is essential that all students act with the same responsibility as other residents and do their bit to protect our city from the virus.’

A surge in coronavirus cases on campuses in recent weeks  has led to thousands of students having to self-isolate in their halls at some universities – including Manchester Metropolitan and Glasgow University.

There have been more than 200 cases at the University of Sheffield and 177 University of Liverpool staff and students have tested positive, according to a survey which contacted 140 institutions.

Around 56 universities across the UK have had at least one confirmed case of Covid-19, an analysis of university responses and media reports suggests. At least 1,798 positive cases of Covid-19 have been identified at these universities, the analysis suggests. 

Self-isolating students at Northumbria University are being provided with food, laundry, cleaning materials and welfare support by the university - working alongside the students' union and Newcastle City Council. Pictured: Police talking to revellers on the street on Wednesday

Self-isolating students at Northumbria University are being provided with food, laundry, cleaning materials and welfare support by the university – working alongside the students’ union and Newcastle City Council. Pictured: Police talking to revellers on the street on Wednesday

The highest number of cases among students and staff appear to be in northern cities in England as well as Scottish universities - which reopened first - but there have been cases at institutions across the UK. Pictured: Revellers and students on a night out in Newcastle on Wednesday

The highest number of cases among students and staff appear to be in northern cities in England as well as Scottish universities – which reopened first – but there have been cases at institutions across the UK. Pictured: Revellers and students on a night out in Newcastle on Wednesday

MORE THAN 50 UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE UK HAVE COVID-19 OUTBREAKS, SURVEY FINDS 

More than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of coronavirus as thousands of students return to campus.

Nearly 1,800 Covid-19 cases have been identified among university students and staff, a survey suggests.

A surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has led to thousands of students having to self-isolate in their halls at some universities – including Manchester Metropolitan and Glasgow University.

There have been more than 200 cases at the University of Sheffield and 177 University of Liverpool staff and students have tested positive, according to a survey which contacted 140 institutions.

Around 56 universities across the UK have had at least one confirmed case of Covid-19, an analysis of university responses and media reports suggests.

At least 1,798 positive cases of Covid-19 have been identified at these universities, the analysis suggests.

The findings come as the University of Manchester – where there have been 221 cases of Covid-19 – apologised for ‘conflicting information’ given to students from some residential staff about isolation.

The BBC reported that students were told that a member of an isolating home could go to the shops for food if they could not get deliveries, and they could use laundry services as long as they wore a mask.

A university spokesman said: ‘The safety and wellbeing of our students is our main concern. We are proud of the work carried out by our Residential Life Team who live in halls alongside our students.

‘If some members of that team have issued conflicting information, we apologise. All students have now been sent a single clear message.’

The highest number of cases among students and staff appear to be in northern cities in England as well as Scottish universities – which reopened first – but there have been cases at institutions across the UK.

There have been 47 cases among students at Oxford Brookes university, while at Sussex University one member of staff and 10 students are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, the PA survey shows.

But not all cases among students and staff have been reported ‘on campus’. Some have occurred in local communities or in private halls of residence.

The highest number of cases among students and staff appear to be in northern cities in England as well as Scottish universities – which reopened first – but there have been cases at institutions across the UK.

There have been 47 cases among students at Oxford Brookes university, while at Sussex University one member of staff and 10 students are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, the survey shows.

But not all cases among students and staff have been reported ‘on campus’. Some have occurred in local communities or in private halls of residence. 

The findings come as the University of Manchester – where there have been 221 cases of Covid-19 – apologised for ‘conflicting information’ given to students from some residential staff about isolation.

The BBC reported that students were told that a member of an isolating home could go to the shops for food if they could not get deliveries, and they could use laundry services as long as they wore a mask.

A university spokesman said: ‘The safety and wellbeing of our students is our main concern. We are proud of the work carried out by our Residential Life Team who live in halls alongside our students.

‘If some members of that team have issued conflicting information, we apologise. All students have now been sent a single clear message.’ 

Surging infections in the North West have pushed Knowsley and Liverpool to second and third worst-affected in the country after a 50 per cent jump in cases in both cities. They now have 246 and 239 cases per 100,000, respectively.

But Bolton, which was at the heart of England’s outbreak for four weeks, has dropped out of the top five after seeing a 10 per cent fall in cases to 180 per 100,000.

The fall in the Greater Manchester town suggests stringent Covid-19 restrictions have begun to take effect, offering a glimmer of hope for other regions facing draconian measures.

Despite warnings of further restrictions, London has no boroughs in the top 50 most infected areas in England, highlighting England’s North-South coronavirus divide. Redbridge has the highest rate at 56 cases per 100,000, after the local authority recorded a 40 per cent spike in infections.

The Public Health England data is based on Covid-19 swabs carried out across the country between August 21 and September 27, and daily indicators up to September 29, which reveal up to one in 14 tests are now positive. Experts fear infections across the country could be higher than the numbers suggest. 

Manchester was the fourth biggest hotspot in the country, the data reveals, after cases rose 36 per cent to 200 per 100,000.

And St Helens, in Merseyside, shot up to the fifth most infected area in England after it saw an 82 per cent rise in infections which pushed its rate to 200 per 100,000.

The lowest levels of infection were seen on the Isle of Wight, where the NHS Covid app was first trialled. Its rate stands at 4 per 100,000. The second lowest was Suffolk, with 6.1 cases per 100,000, followed by Dorset, with 7.7 per 100,000. 

The Government and local health authorities have clamped down with tightened coronavirus restrictions in areas with higher cases, in a desperate attempt to curb spiralling infections.

Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough became the latest cities to face tighter lockdown restrictions yesterday as officials attempted to put a lid on mounting cases.

The rules require people not to attend professional or amateur sporting events, not travel unless essential – such as to school or work – and not to visit care homes except in exceptional circumstances. 

This map reveals areas that have seen the fastest growth in coronavirus cases, with the North seeing the fastest spread alongside some areas of London

This map reveals areas that have seen the fastest growth in coronavirus cases, with the North seeing the fastest spread alongside some areas of London

 

Top 15 coronavirus hotspots in the UK 

  1. Newcastle, 250 cases per 100,000, UP 60 per cent
  2. Knowsley, 247 cases per 100,000, UP 53 per cent
  3. Liverpool, 239 cases per 100,000, UP 51 per cent
  4. Manchester, 200 cases per 100,000, UP 36 per cent
  5. St Helens, 200 cases per 100,000, UP 82 per cent
  6. Halton, 195 cases per 100,000, UP 22 per cent
  7. Bolton, 180 cases per 100,000, DOWN 10 per cent
  8. Sunderland, 172 cases per 100,000, UP 42 per cent
  9. Sefton, 167 cases per 100,000, UP 64 per cent
  10. Bury, 167 cases per 100,000, UP six per cent
  11. South Tyneside, 166 cases per 100,000, DOWN seven per cent
  12. Warrington, 155 cases per 100,000, UP 50 per cent
  13. Rochdale, 151 cases per 100,000, UP 22 per cent
  14. Oldham, 150 cases per 100,000, UP three per cent
  15. Salford, 146 cases per 100,000, UP 16 per cent 

The regions follow much of the North West and North East in tightening restrictions amid an ever-growing outbreak in the North of England.

The latest data reveals the stark coronavirus divide between the North and South of England, with 49 of the most infected regions being in either the North of the Midlands.

Slough, on the outskirts of Windsor, was the only local authority in the South to reach the top 50, with 61 cases per 100,000 after a 200 per cent spike.

Experts have suggested that this division is due to a combination of factors including the weather, level of deprivation and differences in levels of immunity between the regions.

The South East and London were the driest, warmest and sunniest areas in the UK in August, according to data from the Met Office, as summer drew to a grim end across most of the country.

Dr Andrew Preston, an expert in infectious diseases from the University of Bath, told MailOnline it was ‘entirely reasonable’ to draw a link between this and spiking coronavirus cases.

It is thought the showers and cooler weather are likely to have encouraged people to spend longer indoors, where the virus is more capable of spreading, in the North. 

Level of deprivation may have also spurred on a surge in cases, as this would leave people less able to self-isolate or work from home, putting them at greater risk of spreading and contracting the disease.

Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Knowsley, Hull and Manchester, all in the North, have the highest levels of deprivation in the country according to a Government report.

Other experts have said, however, the difference could be down to immunity – with some arguing the virus was infecting up to 100,000 people a day at the height of the outbreak that were mostly in the South.

London’s top ten coronavirus hotspots

  1. Redbridge, 57 cases per 100,000, UP 42 per cent
  2. Barking and Dagenham, 53 cases per 100,00, UP 64 per cent
  3. Hounslow, 50 cases per 100,000, UP 139 per cent
  4. Newham, 49 case per 100,000, UP 77 per cent
  5. Tower Hamlets, 46 cases per 100,000, UP 39 per cent
  6. Havering, 46 cases per 100,000, UP 68 per cent
  7. Hillingdon, 46 cases per 100,000, UP 80 per cent
  8. Ealing, 43 cases per 100,000, UP 105 per cent
  9. Brent, 40 cases per 100,000, UP 95 per cent
  10. Hammersmith and Fulham, 36 cases per 100,000, UP 97 per cent 

This would mean it had higher rates of immunity to the virus than the North, putting a downard pressure on any subsequent second wave.

Boris Johnson and his two top scientific advisers wheeled out a striking set of statistics earlier this week that laid bare the different coronavirus outbreaks in the North and the South.

An average 1,595 cases of Covid-19 are being diagnosed in the North West every day now, compared to just 150 in the South West, while Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East face the second highest infection rates. 

All of the 10 areas with the worst case-per-person ratios are in the north, while eight of 10 of those with the lowest are in the south. Professor Whitty said there was a ‘heavy concentration’ of coronavirus towards the top of England.

In a plea to the public the Prime Minister said: ‘If we put in the work together now then we give ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding that outcome and avoiding further measures.’

‘I know some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail. I have to say I profoundly disagree. I don’t think that is what the British people want. I don’t think they want to throw in the sponge. They want to fight and defeat this virus and that is what we are going to do.’

The Prime Minister displayed these slides at a No10 press conference last night, as he warned of a clear north-south divide in the resurgence of the disease

The Prime Minister displayed these slides at a No10 press conference last night, as he warned of a clear north-south divide in the resurgence of the disease

The left-hand-side map shows the mean temperatures for August in the UK

The right-hand-side map shows the mean rainfall for August across the UK

The left-hand-side map shows the mean temperatures for August in the UK, and the right-hand-side map shows the mean rainfall for August across the UK

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