Almost 3000 coronavirus cases linked to student postcodes

Nearly two-thirds of cases occurred in a three-week period between late September and early October.

Almost 3000 coronavirus cases linked to student postcodes Getty Images
Coronavirus: Almost 3000 cases in student postcodes between start of August and end of November.

There have been almost 3000 cases of coronavirus linked to “student postcodes” in the last four months.

The First Minister said a report showed the outbreaks, between the start of August and end of November, in areas where there are halls of residence or other student accommodation.

Almost two-thirds of the cases occurred in a three-week period between late September and early October, Nicola Sturgeon added.

Overall more than three-quarters were in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with around a quarter found in students living in the Pollock Halls of Residence at Edinburgh University and Glasgow University’s Murano Halls.

Sturgeon said: “The research, as well as reporting on these figures, also sets out lessons for the next semester and many of these relate to measures, which were set out to parliament yesterday by the deputy first minister, such as increases of testing, staggered arrival times for students and students reducing their social contact both before and after travelling.

“The report is a reminder if any of us needed it though of how hard all of us need to work to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in shared accommodation and I continue to be grateful to all students who are having their education disrupted in ways that are not fair to them but are unfortunately inevitable during a global pandemic.”

The First Minister also referred to a Public Health Scotland report which showed that in the seven days after November 30, some 22,000 tests on students were carried out using lateral flow devices.

These more rapid tests are being offered to those university students planning to return home for Christmas, with Sturgeon noting that because students are being urged to be tested twice, the figures do not mean 22,000 people have been tested.

But she said it was a “promising figure” which showed “strong uptake of the testing on offer to students”.

Sturgeon added that the number of positive tests from these students would be published next week – but that the number was “currently thought to be relatively low”.

With mass community testing also under way in six areas of west and central Scotland, Sturgeon said that 13,000 tests had been carried out in the period up to December 7.

“In total, community testing has so far identified 426 positive test samples across these six test centres,” Sturgeon said.

That gives a positivity rate of about 3%, she added, saying the community testing allowed people to be tested even if they do not have coronavirus symptoms.

“The tests over the past week have identified positive cases that might well not have been identified otherwise,” Sturgeon added.

“This pilot programme is showing us that community testing can play a part in controlling Covid, especially in areas with high levels of cummunity transmission.”

She said this would inform a “much wider use of mass testing” in the new year.