More than 200 Cambridge University freshers told to self isolate after 18 students test positive for Covid

MORE than 200 Cambridge Uni freshers are self-isolating after 18 tested positive for coronavirus.

It's the first major incident at the historic establishment since term began last month.

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Homerton College said 233 students in West House have to isolate after a number of positive tests.

It comes after Public Health England gave deans at the university advice on what to do.

In a statement on their website, chiefs at the college said they have chosen to take a "preventative step to reduce the chance of transmission within the wider college, the university and the city".

Officials said: "Following advice from Public Health England and local public health authorities, the Collegiate University's Incident Management Team has asked 223 students resident in West House, Homerton College to self-isolate from 9.30pm on Friday 16 October following 18 positive cases.

"Those who are not already in self-isolation must isolate for 14 days and anyone who was already isolating must finish their 14-day period.

"All other areas of the university and Homerton College remain open.

"This step has been taken based on information from the university's rigorous testing programme."

Around 9,000 students across the UK are now believed to have coronavirus and many universities have now moved to online teaching.

However, it's claimed that many institutions are hesitating before teaching remotely – because they want to keep students until the Christmas holidays, when a key deadline for fee refunds runs out.

In England, students who drop out in their first term are liable for only 25 per cent of their £9,250 fees.

However, many will be unaware that if they leave after their institution’s term one cut-off date, they have to pay half their course fees, or £4,625.

Lots of the worst-hit universities say decisions to move to online teaching will be reviewed before the end of the month.

Now Vicky Blake, president of the Universities and Colleges Union, has told the Guardian: "There is a real question as to why universities haven’t taken what would, by any measure, be a sensible planning decision at this point and suspended face-to-face teaching.

"I think it has to be about fees, and that is disgusting.

"The longer universities can keep the students there, the more money they are entitled to. It is grim when you patch together what is probably behind all this."

In Swansea, one super-spreader has been blamed for an entire university outbreak after a house party.

Newcastle and Northumbria universities have seen some of the biggest outbreaks in the UK.

Between the two neighbouring unis, 1,600 students tested positive in just a week.

More than 550 students tested positive in Leeds, while there's also been an outbreak at Sunderland.

Thousands of students at Manchester were put into quarantine shortly after beginning their first year – after video showing freshers at an illegal lockdown party circulated online.

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