Data from the University’s testing service for the week 10th-16th October has confirmed 197 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. This brings the total number of cases since the implementation of the testing service on August 20 to 288.
The University’s Status and Response website states that the figures released do not include positive test results received outside of the University testing service. It notes further that “due to the time interval between a test being done and the result becoming available, it is expected that there will be a mismatch between actual results and those confirmed to us on any given day”.
The numbers reported by the University follow a number of COVID-19 related escalations this week. On Friday, in the first known case of accommodation-wide isolation in Oxford, University College told all students at their accommodation site in North Oxford to stay within their households. This has now been partially lifted. The college told Cherwell that the lockdown had been caused by “a spike in the number of students at University College who have tested positive for COVID-19”.
An email sent to students from Magdalen College states that there are currently “no positive cases in College, and a very small number of students self-isolating as a close contact”. The college also announced that they will be lifting additional restrictions on guests imposed on first year undergraduates and suspending any fines handed out to members of the JCR, as a result of “the more or less model behaviour of the first-year cohort”.
On Saturday, freshers in sub fusc attire gathered in the city centre to celebrate matriculation day. Despite the ceremony, which marks formal admission to the university, being moved online this year, crowds of students have been accused of ignoring social distancing regulations. The Oxford Mail reported “anger” from fellow students, staff, and residents about large numbers of students drinking and partying in the streets.
The University has implemented a four-stage emergency response, depending on how wide the spread of COVID-19 is. The current status is Stage 2, which allows the University to operate “in line with social distancing restrictions with as full a student cohort as possible on site”, with teaching and assessment taking place “with the optimum combination of in-person teaching and online learning”. A Stage 3 response would imply “no public access to the University or College buildings” and “gatherings for staff and students only permitted where essential for teaching and assessment to take place”.
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