Shropshire Star

Covid cases at Harper Adams University contribute to Shropshire hotspot

A coronavirus hotspot has emerged in the town that is home to Harper Adams University.

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Harper Adams University has praised students for the way they have dealt with covid restrictions and guidelines.

Two areas of Newport are currently the highest in the county for the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people according to the government website.

The Edgmond and Church Aston area of Telford & Wrekin, where the university is based currently has the highest coronavirus rate in the county, with a level of 786 cases per 100,000 people.

In total there have been 51 positive tests in the area in the week up to October 16.

However, the University says only four of its cases had been in the ward up to October 16.

The neighbouring Newport ward has the second highest rate in the county at 251, with 16 cases in the seven days up to October 16.

Cases at the university have contributed to the wider hotspot over the Newport area, and its vice-chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn said they were taking action to make sure they limit the spread of the infection.

Since September 1 the university has reported 74 cases, with 60 in the community, and 12 at its campus, as well as two support staff.

Dr Llewellyn also praised the attitude of students who have had to isolate.

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The Newport hotspot is one of the factors in the rise in the overall rate in Telford & Wrekin, which now stands at 136 cases per 100,000 people. There have been concerns that the increase could lead to the area being moved up into the next tier of the government's coronavirus restrictions.

There have also been cases at a number of schools in Telford & Wrekin, with Newport Infant School confirming that one of its bubbles, and some members of staff were now self isolating after a pupil tested positive for the virus yesterday.

A number of pupils in year 11 at Charlton School have also been asked to self isolate after a positive test for a student.

Dr Llewellyn said: "The rise in cases is disappointing, but sadly not surprising, given we were aware of cases in a series of different households, each with multiple residents and there has also been an increase in case numbers within the wider community. The university is acting quickly to identify, isolate and support all students and staff who are at risk and to review and revise procedures as we learn from our experiences.

“We continue to stress to all members of our staff and student community the importance of alerting us via our hotline when they have symptoms, are undergoing testing, have received results or believe they have been exposed; and also how vital it is for students to remain within their household bubbles, to not mix households and to comply at all times with the hands-face-space guidance.

“The majority of our students have had a commendable attitude in following the day-to-day rules, but especially where they have had to isolate. Some have been exposed through no fault of their own, others have realised their errors after the fact, but have then complied with the necessary steps with good grace and cooperation.

“We wish to reassure all concerned individuals – our own staff and students, their friends and families and residents in the local community – that we are tackling head-on any issues of behaviour that might increase transmission risk, whilst also offering extensive support to students required to isolate, who are unwell or who are anxious about the risks.”