Image Credit: John Robinson
The University of York has confirmed that a "very small number" of students have tested positive for Covid 19 in a statement released on the 29th September. The University's statement came only one day after the other university in the city, York St John, also confirmed that a small number of "less than ten" students had contracted the virus.
The news of University students contracting Covid does not come as a surprise to many, however, as videos of students gathering outside of their accommodation buildings in groups bigger than six have been emerging all over the country. York is only the latest example in a long line that includes Exeter, Oxford and Coventry with presumably many more less-publicised examples in other places too.
The universities in York have been adamant that the small number of cases they've experienced are not enough to constitute an outbreak and that they are unrelated to one another.
However, York Central Labour MP Rachel Maskell has further concerns that York's Covid cases could get worse before they have a chance to improve, as she highlighted another viral video that sparked controversy regarding the government's 10pm curfew on pubs and bars. The viral video showed scenes from York City centre immediately following the curfew’s enactment and showed a large crowd gather of those which had been ejected from drinking establishments, taking it upon themselves to continue their revelry by singing and dancing through the streets and ignoring social distancing and other health precautions.
During a parliamentary session where questions were posed to Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, Maskell called the scenes from the video “the worst of environments” and asked the minister to re-evaluate the workings of the 10pm Curfew to ensure that similar scenes could not be repeated, in York or elsewhere. Hancock’s response emphasised the fact that these curfews have worked in other countries but mentioned that the government would be re-evaluating their policy based on the effects that they are having on the ground level in places like York.
With York being widely speculated as the government’s next “area of concern”, following local lockdowns and other measures across the North of England in Leeds, Durham and other surrounding cities, the City having a spike of cases associated with young people or students might make such measures necessary here as well.