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Significant rise in Covid-19 cases at Scottish universities

A rise in Covid-19 cases amongst the student population in Scotland has led to concerns regarding the forthcoming Easter break, although it is not predicted that this rise in cases will have an impact on the upcoming easing of lockdown measures.  

Significant outbreaks of the virus at the University of Dundee and the University of St Andrews were confirmed over the weekend, and large numbers of students are self-isolating as a result. 

In Dundee, over ninety students have tested positive following a single gathering in a private flat, prompting the university management to release a statement describing “frustration, disappointment and anger.” 

In St Andrews, there are reports of up to ninety-five students self-isolating as a result of sixteen positive test results, with over one thousand tests carried out in the area.  

These outbreaks have led universities across the UK, such as St Andrews and Cardiff, to ask students to remain on campus during the Easter break and not return to their family homes. 

Government guidance currently states that students may move between their university accommodation and their family homes for the Easter break, although they are advised to take tests for the virus before and after returning to their university accommodation. 

It must be noted that the situation differs greatly amongst Scottish universities – within the University of Aberdeen, there are just six active cases of Covid-19, whilst the University of Edinburgh has just five.  

Currently, it does not seem as though localised outbreaks such as these will affect the road map out of lockdown. 

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament exactly one year after the UK first entered lockdown, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed hope that more retail services will still be able to open on the 5th April as planned, alongside barbers and hairdressers, and shops will fully reopen on the 26th April. 

It is also hoped that Scotland can move to level one restrictions by the beginning of June. 

Sturgeon noted that almost half of the whole adult population of Scotland have now received the first dose of the vaccine, and that the vaccination programme is on track to deliver the first dose of the vaccine to the priority groups established by mid-April. 

However, Sturgeon emphasised the need to remain aware of the dangers of the virus, urging listeners to be “careful and cautious.”

She referred to many countries in Europe as being “on the brink of a third wave,” and it is important to note that the predicted shortage of vaccines in April will inevitably have a significant effect on Scotland. 

It is estimated that Scotland will receive 500,000 fewer doses of the vaccine over the next month, as a result of supply issues to the UK. 

This may mean that second doses of the vaccine are prioritised over first doses. 

Sturgeon also highlighted the fact that restrictions have significantly impacted younger people, stating that “although the restrictions on socialising are difficult for all of us – they are especially tough for people in their late teens and early 20s.” 

Image: Edinburgh Live