A major Covid-19 outbreak at the University of Glasgow has led to 124 students testing positive.
The university said the actual number of infected students was “likely to be higher,” and added that 600 people were self-isolating.
Details of the outbreak emerged after Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch urged students to play by the rules.
The clusters are centered on two university residences in the city.
The university said they involved the Murano Street and Cairncross residences, and were largely due to social activity at the start of Freshers Week, September 12-14.
In a statement, he said: ‘We are working closely with the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde public health team to manage them.
“The total number of cases reported since the start of the quarter is 124 but the actual number is likely higher.
“More than 600 students isolate themselves in all the residences. We do not know of any students who had to be hospitalized.
“Affected student households are isolating themselves and have access to food and other supplies. Advice on medical issues, including mental health and wellness, is available. We have also increased the number of support staff in connection with our residences.
Murano Street Student Village is the University of Glasgow’s largest residence, with over 1,100 student rooms.
The university said environmental health teams inspected the residences on Wednesday and reported strong procedures were in place.
Any student who broke the rules was subject to disciplinary action, including termination of their accommodation contract and suspension from university, he added.
The Glasgow outbreak is one of many linked to student residences across Scotland.
The 500 residents of Parker House in Dundee have been asked to self-isolate until contact tracing is complete after three confirmed cases of coronavirus.
In Aberdeen, 72 residents of the student village of Hillhead are isolating themselves after students test positive.
Aberdeen University has urged anyone who has attended parties or other gatherings since Friday to come forward to help with contact tracing efforts, and pledged that if they did, they would not be punished for violating guidelines.
Previously, Professor Leitch had described the Glasgow University outbreak as “significant” and warned students to follow the guidelines.
During the daily briefing he said: “We need you not to have house parties, I couldn’t be clearer. ”
He described four ways the student could help curb the spread of the virus.
- If you have symptoms of Covid-19, self-isolate and book a test immediately
- Download the Protect Scotland app to your mobile phone
- Follow the Test and Protect advice and the advice of your establishment. If you are asked to self-isolate, you must do so for 14 days
- Don’t have house parties
And he reminded students that new restrictions on mixing with other households in private homes applied to students as well as to the rest of the population.
What went wrong during Freshers Week?
A Cairncross House student told BBC Scotland she was asked to quarantine on Sunday – a week after arriving in the city.
Under Scottish Government guidelines, students in residences are assigned to ‘households’ based on shared facilities such as kitchens.
She said two people in her household of eight have tested positive for the coronavirus.
They mainly signal loss of taste or smell and mild fever, she said.
It appears to have spread throughout the residence during Freshers’ Week, when students mingled with people outside their homes.
“I don’t think people were too callous,” the student said.
“People were mingling outside their homes because I mean it was Freshers Week, people weren’t going to stay in their own kitchens and do nothing.
“But I don’t think people were too crazy. The hallways I am in are not the craziest. There were no massive parties. ”
She said they were advised to wear masks when leaving their rooms to use communal kitchens and to order deliveries to supermarkets.
But she was able to continue her studies because all her courses are online.
“It’s a little strange,” she said. “It gets a little hard to concentrate when you are sitting in your room from 9 am to 5 pm and you can’t go out for a walk to clear your head.
“At the same time, it’s good to have work to occupy my time. But it’s only the third day, so it might get harder. “
‘No fault of the students’
Nicola Sturgeon said the University of Glasgow outbreak affected the daily Covid-19 infection figure for the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.
A total of 224 cases were recorded in the health council area in the past day, she said.
She said the outbreaks were “in no way” the fault of the students and made a direct call to them.
“I know the vast majority of you will already be doing the right things,” she said.
“I want to recognize how difficult it is and I want to thank you for it. But it’s also important to stress a key point for students living in halls or shared accommodation that might watch.
“If you’re being asked to isolate yourself and I know a lot of you are already in that position, it’s really, really important that you take that advice.
She urged them to follow FACTS’s advice and comply with the new restrictions on family reunions.
The president of the National Students Union in Scotland, Matt Crilly, said many students were concerned about the growing number of cases linked to universities and colleges.
“It’s a really tough time,” he said. “Obviously their university or college has asked them to go back to campus and they’re now living in hallways and they’re really worried.
“We are all really worried about this wave of outbreaks of Covid cases around us. “