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St Andrews University students asked to go into weekend lockdown

St Andrews during the lockdown.
St Andrews during the lockdown.

Students at St Andrews University have been asked to go into voluntary lockdown this weekend amid a surge in cases nationwide.

Anticipating a national lockdown was imminent, Principal Professor Sally Mapstone asked students to stay in their rooms from Friday evening.

There are three people at the Fife university confirmed as having Covid-19, two of them students and one staff member.

St Andrews University.

In an urgent message issued to students late on Friday afternoon, she said it was “very clear that rates of Covid-19 infections were surging again” in parts of the country and that another national lockdown was “very likely” close.

She said: “In these circumstances, I am writing to all of our students to ask you to please observe a voluntary lockdown this weekend, effective from 7pm this evening.

“This means that I am asking you all to remain in your rooms as much as possible, not to party, not to go to bars or restaurants, and to avoid mixing with any groups outside your own households.”

‘Doing nothing is not an option’: Nicola Sturgeon puts Scotland on notice for tougher coronavirus restrictions

Students had only returned to the town last week for the start of the new semester on Monday, having been told to go home at the start of lockdown in March.

Prof Mapstone said the request may seem premature but added: “A hallmark of this pandemic has been that, as a society, we have acted too slowly in the past, and thousands of people have died unnecessarily as a result.

“Early action saves lives, and we have an opportunity as one community to take action to protect ourselves, and those with whom we share this town.

“We acted swiftly in March when the pandemic first hit Fife, and the situation we face now is just as serious.”

Covid-19 on the rise in Fife with 41 new cases since the start of September

Events planned for the weekend have been cancelled, including sporting and society activities and events at the Byre Theatre, main library and the university chapel.

Prof Mapstone stressed the action was “preemptive and proactive” and there was no evidence of the virus surging in St Andrews.

However, she said as the country was in a fast-moving phase early intervention was key and “hours make a difference”.

Coronavirus in Scotland – track the spread in these charts and maps

Students were told the situation would be kept under close review over the weekend and they would be informed of any further measures necessary.

Those at the university who tested positive are self-isolating and contact tracing began earlier this week.

The cases were not reckoned to be connected, with all believed to have been contracted outwith Fife.

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