Swansea University Covid-19 cases 'all linked to one house party'

30 September 2020, 19:25

There has been a Covid outbreak at the University of Swansea (file)
There has been a Covid outbreak at the University of Swansea (file). Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

All 32 coronavirus cases at Swansea University have been linked to a house party attended by an infected person, the university has said.

At the university, students have been warned that if they flout coronavirus guidelines they could face being kicked off their courses.

So far, six warnings have been given to students who have been caught breaching the rules.

Andrew Rhodes, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at Swansea University, told Wales Online: “What we have seen on coronavirus is that almost all of the cases stem from before the main arrival of the students.

“Cases are stemming from the same party.

“One infected person who came from outside the area caused the transmission of the virus.

“In terms of all those who had positive test results, there were 32 - all of those students were from a particular party.”

Read more: UK records 7,108 coronavirus cases and 71 deaths in last 24 hours

Read more: MPs vote to renew emergency coronavirus powers

He added: “We have seen a reasonable amount of cases but we have had no cases within hall of residents or on the campus.

“We’ve had no cases on the campus at all, it’s all been in private accommodation.

“The vast majority are connected to the same event on September 12 when there was a cluster of parties.

“In line with Covid restrictions we cannot be having gatherings or parties you can only be with those in your house or flat bubbles.

Read more: Liverpool 'days away' from more severe Covid-19 lockdown

Read more: Boris Johnson press conference: Scientists say Covid-19 is 'not under control yet'

“There are some students who have enjoyed themselves more than they should have done but the vast majority have been brilliant.

“We have not needed to exclude anyone but we have issued formal warnings to students who did not heed their formal warnings.

“We would look at suspension after they have been warned, we are hoping it does not come to that - we have to try to come to a sensible balance.

“We have issued six warnings but we have not need to issue any others and we have not needed to take any disciplinary action."

Kirsty Williams also refused to rule out students being prevented from returning homes for Christmas.

She said while she would leave "no stone unturned" to allow people in university to be with their families, she could "not predict" what state coronavirus would be in Wales in three months' time.

Asked at the Welsh Government press briefing why she could not give a guarantee to anxious students or their families, Ms Williams said: "These six months have been a complete roller coaster. I cannot predict now, today, what December will look like.

"What I can give an absolute guarantee that we will leave no stone unturned, working with our universities, and with our public health officials, and with other governments in the United Kingdom, to give students the chance to get home for Christmas.

"That's my priority - it's my priority as the education minister, and it's my priority as a mum."

One system to facilitate students returning home, which could see students having to self-isolate before leaving their university town or city, was being discussed by ministers, Public Health Wales and universities, she said.

Ms Williams also took issue with questions about reports of students ignoring Covid-19 regulations, saying it was "unfair" to attempt to blame them for playing a role in increasing cases across the country.

She said the Government was not considering additional measures for students following reports of a gathering of 100 people outside a student complex in Cardiff on Saturday evening, and all 32 Covid-19 cases at Swansea University being linked to one house party by its registrar.

Ms Williams said: "I think it's really unfair to look to blame students or try and depict students or build a narrative that students in some way are not taking this pandemic seriously.

"The vast majority of students studying here in Wales wanted to do the right thing and they want to follow the rules. There will be a small minority that will ignore the rules."

She added: "Those rules are there for everybody. For permanent residents of Wales, but also for our students."