University College have told all students at their accommodation site in North Oxford to stay within their households, from this afternoon. This includes almost 100 second-year undergraduates and some graduate students.

The college told students in an email that the lockdown has been caused by “a spike in positive Covid-19 tests among Univ students”. Students are waiting on “further advice” about how long the lockdown will last, and it is described as a “precautionary measure”.

This is the first known case of accommodation-wide isolation in Oxford, though many other colleges have households currently in isolation. Other colleges may also be dealing with significant clusters.

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The measures are in light of concerns about Public Health England (PHE) involvement, who can step in to manage the outbreak with further restrictions when there is a cluster. Students will receive an update by midday Monday at the latest, after a PHE review.

Students will be supported with grocery deliveries, laundry, and welfare.

The University of Oxford reported 61 Covid-19 cases in Freshers’ week, making 91 total confirmed cases among staff and students from 20th August to 9th October.

A spokesperson from University College told Cherwell: “There has been a spike in the number of students at University College who have tested positive for COVID-19. The students involved live in college accommodation on one of the College’s sites. As of Saturday 17 October there have been 19 positive cases.

“The College is working with Oxford University’s Early Alert Service and the public health authorities to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to limit the spread of the virus. On an interim basis, the College has asked students who are resident on the site concerned to remain in their households, pending further advice.

“College staff and student representatives are in regular contact, and are making sure that students have food and other support. Online tuition and other academic support will also be available. ‘We are working with students to reduce risks both to them and to the wider community’, said a college officer. ‘Resident staff are on hand to offer support and advice as required.’”

This article was updated at 18:15 on 17th October to include University College’s comment.

Image credit: Megan/ Flickr.