The University of Sheffield currently has a soaring Covid-19 infection rate. New figures released today show an additional 79 students and one member of staff at the University reported a positive test result. This takes the total to 669 confirmed cases – a figure which, based on available data, places it behind just two other UK universities.

Firstly, a disclaimer. Not all institutions are as forthcoming with their campus infection statistics as Sheffield. Here, we get a daily cumulative total whereas elsewhere there are less regular updates. This delay in reporting means some universities may have higher numbers of actual cases than their figures show. 

This said, it’s pretty clear universities in northern England and the Midlands are the worst affected. Local populations in these areas are also more likely to face extra restrictions with local lockdowns currently in place across large swathes of these regions. 

The University of Manchester currently has the most confirmed cases. Positive test results have already surpassed 1,000 with 1,061 students and staff testing positive since 21 September.

This is the first university to confirm over 1,000 cases. But with an average of 87.3 students testing positive over the past seven days, Sheffield is likely to surpass this figure by next week.

Northumbria University in Newcastle has recorded the second highest figure, with 770 cumulative student cases last Friday, 2 October, 78 of whom were symptomatic. Neighbouring Newcastle University confirmed it had 94 positive cases amongst staff and students. 

However, it’s worth noting that Northumbria’s term started a week before Sheffield’s and so their epidemic curve has had a week longer to develop. The real comparison here will be Northumbria’s count of 770 with Sheffield’s total in three days’ time. 

Other universities with high numbers include the University of Nottingham, where 433 staff and students tested positive in the week ending 2 October, and the University of Liverpool which has reported 177 positive cases.

However, in the eastern and southern regions of England the number of cases do not appear to be as high.

The University of East Anglia in Norwich had two students test positive, and the University of Essex in Colchester reported a “small number” of cases linked to its “elite sports programme”.

The University of Sussex in Brighton has reported 18 positive cases, while the University of Brighton has reported five.

The University of Bristol has not released any exact figures but in a statement said “the number of students who have tested positive remains very low”. 

However at Oxford Brookes University, although 68 cases were reported in the week leading up to 25 September, this accounted for 70 percent of the total cases in the city. 

Other parts of the UK have also seen outbreaks of the virus.

In Wales, Cardiff University reported seven new confirmed cases for Monday 5 October. University of South Wales has reported eight positive cases, while Swansea University confirmed 32 cases linked to one house party.

The University of Glasgow has seen the most cases across Scottish universities, with latest figures confirming 172 students tested positive across two “significant clusters” within halls of residence.

In Northern Ireland, 388 students and staff at Queen’s University in Belfast have been asked to self-isolate after 160 tested positive for Coronavirus.

If you have been instructed to self-isolate by the University of Sheffield and would like to share your experience with the Forge News team, please email: 

Image: George Tuli


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