Lockdown ‘necessary’ to halt virus spread, university tells students

The university is working with a local supermarket to organise food deliveries.

Lockdown ‘necessary’ to halt virus spread, university tells students

Bosses at Manchester Metropolitan University have told hundreds of self-isolating students that a lockdown is “necessary” to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to other students, staff and the local community.

Students described being scared and confused as their accommodation was locked down on Friday, as up to 1,700 were told to stay in their rooms at the Birley campus and Cambridge Halls for 14 days after 127 tested positive for coronavirus.

Some at the Birley campus described confusion as security staff arrived to enforce the lockdown before many of them had received any official communication from the university, leaving them wondering how they would stock their shelves as they were not allowed to go out to buy food.

“With more than 100 students testing positive for Covid-19 in the halls, the decision was deemed necessary to prevent the spread of the virus to other students, staff or the local community.

“We appreciate your many concerns about the impact of this isolation period and we are working hard to put plans in place to help you in the coming days.”

Among the plans are the stepping up of food deliveries with the university working in partnership with a local supermarket.

Covid-19 signage at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Birley campus
Covid-19 signage at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Birley campus (Peter Byrne/PA)

The university added: “We appreciate this self-isolation period will present difficulties for you, especially coming so soon after your arrival at the university. We are here to support you, and our staff are working hard with local partners to make this period more manageable for you.”

On Saturday, Dominic Waddell, 21, a first-year filmmaking student, told the PA news agency: “A few people got an email to announce they were locking down my accommodation, but not everyone got that so there was a big freak-out with everyone.

“There was a security guard that then just arrived at the gate of our accommodation and he wasn’t letting anybody leave, not really explaining what was going on.

“They’re saying ‘the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff and the local community is our top priority’ but it doesn’t really seem like that if they haven’t allowed us time to prepare for this.”

Dominic Waddell in Manchester
Dominic Waddell described a ‘big freak-out’ when security staff arrived (Waddell Digital)

“It was quite scary and confusing,” she told PA. “A police van turned up and there were police outside the gate, quite a lot of them just walking around looking at everyone, especially because we didn’t know what was going on.

“No one’s really told us much and then the police turn up as well with security outside – it’s a really, really difficult situation.”

Megan Tingey, a Manchester Metropolitan University student
Megan Tingey said she has only recently finished isolating after a positive test for coronavirus (PA)

“I think pretty much everyone in our accommodation finished their self-isolation around yesterday, so I think doing a lockdown of the building now is quite bad considering we’ve all just come out of it,” Ms Tingey said.

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