UK Universities Face Increase in COVID-19 Cases as Christmas Break Begins



DECEMBER 17, 2021

Universities across the United Kingdom have seen a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases as the latter prepare to return home for the Christmas break.

Students have been advised to perform COVID-19 tests before they leave the campus for the winter holidays and again before returning in the new year. In addition, universities have also urged students to get their booster shots.

As the Guardian reports, due to the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, Loughborough University and Imperial College London have decided to shift to online teaching for most students over the past few days, while other universities worldwide have asked students and staff to cancel plans for Christmas to avoid hybrid teaching.

Professor of epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh Rowland Kao said that although infections across universities have not been severe compared to a year earlier, any travel poses a risk.

“Thus students travelling should be cautious in regards to both physical distancing measures and with the use of lateral flow tests to try to detect presymptomatic infections,” Kao told the Guardian.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has also been noted at the University of Oxford, where more than 100 positive cases were registered last week, while the University of Sheffield has reported 81 cases among students on December 14.

A Department of Education spokesperson told the Guardian that they are working with the higher education sector to ensure that students can still receive in-person education.

Similarly, Universities UK representing hundreds of universities in countries across the UK, have pointed out that they will work closely with the health authorities and government regarding public health advice so all students, employees, and the university community will be safe from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the increase in the number of cases, including the spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, many students have decided to leave earlier so they can avoid quarantine.

Earlier, the UK announced that students coming from red countries would have to quarantine upon return to the country. Some universities, including the University of Manchester, University of Bath, University of Exeter, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham, and Swansea University have offered to partially cover the costs of hotel quarantine for international students returning to the UK from red countries.

According to some recent data by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), 77,810 students have applied to study at universities in the United Kingdom in 2021.