Students at the University of Manchester have been hosting ‘Covid-positive’ parties, strictly for those who have had the virus.
The normal requirements for a party might include booze, maybe some nibbles, potentially a dress code, but this party, hosted by a fresher at the University of Manchester, had a pretty weird entry requirement: Covid-19.
Hosted at the Fallowfield campus halls, the party – which required guests to have a positive test – was broken up by security on Saturday.
A student told the Guardian: “There was a flat party a few days ago which had a policy that you could only get in if you were positive. It was like their health-and-safety measure.”
Manchester’s director of public health, David Regan, explained that the city’s 17-21 undergraduate age group now has an incident rate six times higher than the rest of Manchester, standing at 2,935 in every 100,000 people.
On Sunday, 1,041 University of Manchester students tested positive for the virus. Most of these students live in shared accommodation at university halls and are now finding themselves paying thousands to be kept in isolation.
Several other university cities in the UK have seen a flare-up in coronavirus cases since students arrived in September.
In Newcastle, more than 800 cases have been recorded across the two universities. Concerns have been raised regarding three deaths that tragically happened last week in the North East city due to drugs, and whether they would have happened if students could go to pubs and clubs.
Chair of criminology at the University of Liverpool, Professor Fiona Measham, warned that such tragedies would happen when students returned to university.
She explained: “Everyone was so busy with coronavirus and no one was thinking about what would happen when the students came back.
“There’s no nightclubs and pubs close at 10pm. Nightclubs are a semi-safe space, they have registered door staff and security, the bigger clubs often have paramedics, they have chill-out spaces. If you don’t have nightclubs open, you lose that safety net.”
Another student told the Guardian: “There are still messages in the group chat asking where the next party is”.
Adding: “Me and my flatmates walk by flats that have sticky notes on their windows displaying they have corona, like the red plague marks during the Black Death, and the silence from the uni is deafening.”
He further explained: “I’ve talked to a few people here [Nottingham] and they’re waiting for the lift and stuff and it’s all the same message, that the uni got us to come back just to take our money.”
In Manchester, both universities have now cancelled all face to face teaching as of last Tuesday.
Local MPs Jeff Smith and Afzal Khan said they have received fewer complaints about student parties than in a normal freshers week, however students say they are instead hosting ‘big flat parties’.
One student said: “There are always invitations flying around on WhatsApp saying stuff like: ‘Come to flat 8, we’ve all got ’Rona.’ It’s hard to know how serious they are because I haven’t been, but some people do feel quite a lot of pressure to go out.
“There’s a massive amount of insecurity in freshers week, with everyone wanting to make friends. There’s a fear if you don’t go out you will be alone.”
A University of Manchester spokesperson said, in regards to the Covid-positive party: “The university is aware of this incident and we strongly condemn this irresponsible behaviour and conduct.
“We are investigating this as a matter of urgency and will deal with the students responsible via our internal disciplinary processes. The universities are meeting daily with Greater Manchester police and Manchester city council to review incidents and respond accordingly.
“The vast majority of our students are behaving responsibly, and we are supporting them if they are self-isolating. As a university we will continue to do all we can to keep our students, staff and the wider Manchester community safe.”
Greater Manchester Nightingale Hospital open again due to high levels of coronavirus
The Nightingale Hospital for the North West will open later this week and house non-Covid patients.
The temporary facility to treat patients with Covid-19 opened originally in April but has been closed in summer.
However, later this week it is set to reopen for non-Covid patients.
It is set to reopen as figures show the number of coronavirus patients being treated in the North West is now approaching the level it was in the first surge of the virus.
A spokesperson said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will accept patients from today to provide care for those who do not have Covid-19, but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social care assessments.”
As of October 26th, North West hospitals had 2,407 patients with coronavirus, the highest number of cases since April 23rd.
Dr Jane Eddleston, medical director of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Nightingale will not be used as a critical care facility and neither was it in the first phase. It will be used as a facility for patients to have additional rehabilitation.”
Sacha Lord says 10pm curfew will be reviewed next month
Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, has said the government will review the 10pm curfew in November.
All hospitality venues must shut their doors at 10pm under current laws, however, Sacha Lord and other industry members have been campaigning the curfew.
Since September 24th, when the curfew was put in place, the #CancelTheCurfew movement has been backed by a number of industry professionals.
The Parklife founder, Lord, filed a pre-action letter last night which claimed there was no scientific justification of the Tier 3 regulations and the limits on pubs and bars operating hours.
Lord has tweeted that the government ‘are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew’ in November.
He wrote: “In November, the Government are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew.
“It doesn’t work for the public or operators.
“Overloaded transport, crowded takeaways, supermarkets etc.
“It’s doing far more harm than good. Operators are running safe and secure COVID19 venues.
“Cancel the Curfew”
Lord confirmed they had a formal response from the government regarding the judicial review where he said ‘we consider it insufficient’.
He added “I cannot go into detail, but I can say that we have considered it and it is insufficient. I have instructed my lawyers to commence legal proceedings.”
Lord is now backing the OneGM campaign, which sees different sectors of the industry coming together to show support for businesses and people in Greater Manchester.
It is unclear yet when Greater Manchester will be removed from Tier 3 restrictions.
Dr Hilary backs calls for tier 3 restrictions across all of England by Christmas
It’s not looking good.
Dr Hilary has responded on GMB this morning to reports that the whole of England should be in tier 3 by Christmas.
It comes following some reports that all of England could be placed under the strictest coronavirus restrictions by mid-December.
The UK deaths hit their highest level in five months on Tuesday, when 367 new fatalities linked to coronavirus and nearly 23,000 more cases were recorded.
The Sun explained that SAGE member, Professor Sir Mark Walport said it is ‘not unrealistic’ to think that 25,000 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.
With total Covid related deaths reaching 61,000 across the nation, there are predictions that figures will be higher than the Spring peak come December.
Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Body (Sage) are reportedly warning that virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas in the North already.
A government source also told The Sun ‘the latest Sage numbers are utterly bleak.’
According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Downing Street is working on the assumption that the second wave of COVID-19 will be more deadly than the first.’
From next week parts of Nottinghamshire and Warrington will be placed into Tier Three.
This means that more than eight million people in England, predominantly in the North, will be under the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions by the end of the week.
The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, told Sky News: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.
“But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will become Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.
“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”
Dr Hilary Jones spoke on Good Morning Britain this morning explaining that a vaccine ‘won’t stop a rise in infections’.
Jones said: “Just look at the figures, the hospital admissions are increasing, doubling every two weeks. In a month from now, we’ll be worse than we were in the first wave.”
He said: “We can’t rely on a vaccine, we hope it will save people from dying but it won’t stop infections, not the early vaccine anyway.”
Adding that: “I think we still need to rely on the basic principles which is hands, face, space and if we all do that and we’re realistic and don’t say Christmas is an exception.
“If we make Christmas an exception, then every celebration will be an exception. A birthday, a Friday night, a promotion…”