HUNDREDS of students have tested positive for coronavirus at Northumbria University – days after youngsters were pictured breaking the rule of six.
Around 770 people are infected with the virus at the uni in Newcastle-upon-Tyne – although just ten per cent are showing Covid symptoms.
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It’s the single-largest outbreak in the UK and comes after Newcastle city centre was packed with revellers on Wednesday night – with many admitting they were flouting coronavirus guidelines.
Drinkers were spotted flooding into pubs and bars despite the North East being near coronavirus breaking point.
Meanwhile, another 6,968 people tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours – the third-highest increase ever – while 66 more people lost their lives.
A university spokesperson today said: “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.”
News of the huge outbreak comes days after young people openly admitted flouting the new rules to get around the social ban.
Youth at risk
YOUNG Brits are the most likely to age group to have caught Covid, official data suggests.
Early research from Public Health England shows those aged 17 to 29 were significantly more likely to have had the infection than older people.
Experts claimed younger Brits are the least likely to follow social distancing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously warned young people needed to follow the guidelines.
Speaking last month, he said: “We have seen a concerning rise in the number of positive cases, particularly among younger people, and these figures serve as a salutary reminder that this virus is still very much with us and remains a threat.
“So it is critical that we maintain our collective commitment to controlling this disease, and social distancing is the first line of defence.”
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Bethany Melvin, 22, partied with a group of her girlfriends on Wednesday.
She told The Sun Online: “I want to play out and I want to do what I want to do.
“It’s not very nice for us as me and my friends live at different ends of the city.
“We went into Revolution de Cuba and they asked us if we were in the same household but we obviously lied.”
Eve Drury, 21, from Gateshead, said: “I just don’t think a lot of the new rules make sense either.
FLOUT OF ORDER
“It’s our friend’s birthday so we’re not following the rules to miss that.
“I just think places want business, and they aren’t really going to be bothered about much else.”
It comes after Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned that the North East had seen a “rapid increase” in infections – despite large swathes being under local lockdown.
He also said there was a “significant uptick in the number of people entering intensive care”.
Boris Johnson recently said the recent spike in cases across the UK could have come from the public becoming more complacent.
He said: “The nation came together in March and April.
“What happened over the summer was a bit of sort of fraying of people’s discipline and attention to those rules.”
Th north-east has recorded 940 cases per 100,000 people since the start of the pandemic – which equates to around 25,097 cases, according to data from Public Health England.
People living in Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Durham and Sunderland now face £200 fines for socialising indoors with loved ones who live outside of their household.
Northumberland Uni is among more than 50 institutions to have confirmed coronavirus cases in recent weeks, as thousands of students return to campuses.
By comparison, Glasgow University has seen some 124 confirmed cases and there have been 221 recorded at the University of Manchester.
Self-isolating students are being provided with food, laundry, cleaning materials and welfare support by the university, working alongside the students’ union and Newcastle City Council.
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”.
“Sadly, a small number of students are undermining these efforts,” she said.
“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.”
Elsewhere, one superspreader has been blamed for an entire university’s outbreak after 32 new infections were linked to a house party in Swansea.
Hundreds of cases have been reported across 30 sites, forcing students to be isolated in areas rife with the virus.
Manchester’s Metropolitan University has been particularly badly hit, with 1,700 students trapped in their halls after an outbreak.
At least 200 students were videoed climbing on top of ping pong tables and raving at Arundel House, close to Coventry University’s main campus.
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The University and College Union called the situation “the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predicted Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK”.
General secretary Jo Grady said: “We warned of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country.
“The time has come for urgent action to protect staff and students.”