Queen’s University Belfast ‘closely monitoring’ rise in Covid-19 cases

More than 160 students and staff reported to have tested positive for disease

Queen’s University  Belfast: said the safety and wellbeing of staff and students is its first priority, and a range of interventions have been made across campus. Photograph:  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Queen’s University Belfast: said the safety and wellbeing of staff and students is its first priority, and a range of interventions have been made across campus. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Queen’s University Belfast is “closely monitoring” an increase in coronavirus cases and has not ruled out introducing further measures to stem the spread.

It has been reported that 166 students and staff at the south Belfast university have tested positive for Covid-19.

About 25,000 students started back last month for the new academic year.

In a statement, the university said the safety and wellbeing of staff and students is its “first priority”, and a “range of interventions” have been made across campus.

“The university is liaising with the Public Health Agency (PHA) on a daily basis to ensure the university is continuing to apply the correct measures to limit the spread of infection,” the statement said.

“Although the number of staff and students affected remains a minority, the increase in number of positive cases is a concern and the university fully appreciates that this may cause anxiety for students, staff, and their families.

“Queen’s is closely monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to apply additional measures to further protect members of our community as considered necessary in discussions with the PHA.”

The university said that evidence gathered through contact tracing has indicated that transmission of the virus is happening in social or accommodation settings.

Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has urged the university authorities to ensure their messaging is clear.

“Queen’s University must do all within its powers to ensure students in its accommodation are informed of all procedures in place to keep students and others safe,” he said.

“Effective communication is key and I would urge university authorities to ensure their messaging is clear and being received and understood by students.”

Mr O’Dowd also urged Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Health Minister Robin Swann to bring forward Covid-19 advice for students through the Public Health Agency. – PA