Student accommodation linked to 3,000 covid cases

New analysis from Public Health Scotland has found almost 3,000 covid infections linked to student accommodation, and almost two thirds of respondents reporting worsening wellbeing and mental health since the start of the university term.

The report, published today, found that:

  • 2,897 positive COVID-19 cases were associated with university accommodation postcodes, which represents 3.0% of the cumulative number of recorded cases of COVID-19 in Scotland (as of 30 November 2020).
  • University accommodation in the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh accounted for over three-quarters (79%) of cases.
  • At the universities studied, 65% of respondents indicated that their wellbeing and mental health had worsened since starting in the autumn term of 2020: 33% said it was ‘slightly worse’, 32% said it was ‘much worse’.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Further and Higher Education spokesperson Jenny Marr said: 

"The return to universities was astonishingly poorly handled by the Scottish Government. It's no surprise that if you drag students halfway across the country and then lock them up in halls where the virus runs rampant with minimal supplies and support, their health and wellbeing suffers.

"Everyone knew that this was going to be the biggest movement of people around Scotland in months. That's why Scottish Liberal Democrats repeatedly pressed for student testing to be made available in advance, as well as for rent rebates for students who would prefer to study from home and urgent mental health support for those who needed it.

“But poor planning led to a hugely damaging situation for both the students themselves and the communities they were told to move to. The repercussions of the spiralling infection rate that followed are still being felt.

"These failures must not be repeated in the new year. The Government need a comprehensive plan for our universities, that includes the provision of mass testing and an urgent expansion of mental health support."

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