Covid-19 cases at St Andrews University have risen by nearly 400% in the space of a week.
At least 455 cases were recorded at the university last week alone, among both staff and students.
That was up from just 92 cases the previous week.
According to the university’s data, last week’s cases make up 40% of all those recorded at St Andrews since September.
The rise has sparked concern among locals about the effect a Covid outbreak at the university will have on the wider town.
Resident Grant Browning, who contacted The Courier, said: “The impact on the town is significant.
“Given how integrated the students are with the locals, it would seem helpful to warn the public that cases are so high and growing so fast in the town.”
Jane Ann Liston, a councillor for St Andrews, said: “This spike in university cases is a warning to us all not to think that Covid has gone away, and that we can just go back to meeting lots of people cheek-by-jowl, indoors and out.
University ‘has not put a foot wrong’
“Throughout the pandemic the university has also been quick to keep the public informed as to the measures they are taking depending on the situation at the time.
“As far as I can see the university has not put a foot wrong, recognising its responsibility for its community and the potential results of its interactions with the rest of the people who live and work in St Andrews.”
Fellow councillor Ann Verner described the rise as “worrying”.
But she added: “My understanding is that those who are reporting positive tests are mostly either asymptomatic or showing signs of a relatively mild illness, which is a hallmark of the Omicron variant.
“In my opinion, the university is continuing to do all it can to minimise the effects of the current spike and by also regularly issuing updates.”
A statement to students from the university said: “As expected, we are experiencing an uptick in the numbers of people in our community testing positive for Covid.
“This reflects what is happening in society more widely. I am sure you all know someone who currently has Covid, has had it very recently, or is isolating because of it.
“If anything, the virus may be slightly less prevalent in our university community than it is elsewhere in Scotland at present, but we should expect cases in St Andrews perhaps to continue to grow a little before levelling off.
It is not a reason to deflect us from our plans to continue a proportionate return to increased levels of in-person teaching
St Andrews University
“Many of you reporting positive tests have told us you’re either asymptomatic, or have relatively mild illness, which is a hallmark of the Omicron variant.
“This Omicron uptick was expected, and it is not a reason to deflect us from our plans to continue a proportionate return to increased levels of in-person teaching after the mid-semester break this month.
“It is to the great credit of St Andrews’ students and staff that so many of you are continuing to test regularly.
“By doing this, you are helping all of us. Please however be patient with each other, and our university services which may be affected by self-isolation and staff absence in the short term.”