Oxford has been hit by flu after Freshers’ week, with bedridden students across the University struggling to cope with first week essays.
Some colleges have been hit harder than others. At Lincoln students were asked to send an email to James Meredith, JCR President if they had been feeling unwell. He said, “I didn’t think college knew how many people were ill, the main aim was to inform them.” He added that while 62 students get in touch before the college convened its swine flu committee, “about seventy five people emailed in total.”
Simon Millar, one Lincoln flu sufferer, described his experience. “It’s been horrific two days. I have had a very high temperature of around 38.5 degrees and muscular pains. There are four boys in my house who have had it, and all of us have been bedridden.”
University College has also had its share of flu sufferers. According to Alice Heath, JCR president, there are “16 confirmed cases” so far and there is a “flu buddy system which involves anyone whose friends can’t help, and college parents looking out for their fresher children.”
At St. Hugh’s College, pandemic preparations have been put to the test already. During the vacation, a group of summer school students contracted swine flu and so the administration has already been through a “trial run” of how to cope if it strikes again.
Christopher Blake, JCR president commented, “At this point everyone seems alright but I believe that the wave has yet to crest and we are likely to see swine flu spread more quickly through the university. When that happens, I believe that the College will be well prepared to safeguard the health of students as best they can.”
Although the number of diagnosed cases of swine flu are still low, there has been a widespread outbreak of illness in colleges. This has led some to speculate on the joint arrival of the H1N1 pandemic and the infamous Freshers’ Flu which plagues the University at the beginning of each year when hundreds of unwashed students converge upon the city.
Most colleges are well prepared to weather a crisis of increased urgency. At Lady Margaret Hall, the H1N1 response team has installed hand sanitizers in public walkways, distributed swine flu packs which include water, paracetemol, thermometers, and set up a computer system to track the progress of students.