Students have continued to arrive in Dundee for the start of the academic year despite the escalating coronavirus crisis in the city.
The city’s student population continues to swell, despite 500 students being told to quarantine in Parker House and the outbreak spreading to nearby Meadowside Halls on Bell Street.
The number of students who have tested positive in Parker – which is home to first year students at Dundee and Abertay Universities – has grown to 49 while there are currently three confirmed positive cases at nearby Meadowside Halls.
Police dispersed a handful of protestors outside Meadowside in Dundee on Sunday afternoon as tensions over management of the outbreak among students continued to grow.
The Dundee Resistance Movement group – which contained no students – gathered to demonstrate against the public health measures, saying they contravened human rights.
Daniel Clark from the group – which questions the existence of the virus – said: “There are students in there who have been reaching out to members of the community.
“They have been reaching out to their mothers, fathers, grandparents and friends. They actually feel they are being imprisoned.”
The affected students themselves tried to inject some humour into a tense situation.
Students in Meadowside put signs up in their flat windows. One read: “Still alive, just.”
Another offered a rolling tally of the number of confirmed positive tests inside the building.
The nearby Captain’s Cabin pub remains closed on a voluntary basis as investigators pursue “a number of cases” linked to the popular bar.
Dr Daniel Chandler, chairman of the NHS Tayside Incident Management Team, said there have been no reports of positive cases experiencing serious illness or complications.
He said: “We are expecting an increase in the number of students moving to the local area this weekend ahead of starting their courses, and our university and college colleagues have put in place a number of measures to help protect the student population and to limit the spread of the virus.”
At nearby St Andrews University, students and staff are facing an anxious wait to see if the second consecutive weekend of voluntary lockdown will have any impact on coronavirus figures.
A total of 21 people with links to the university were in isolation over the weekend after testing positive for Covid-19,
The town remained extremely busy on Saturday despite Professor Sally Mapstone calling on the student community to refrain from visiting pubs, bars and restaurants for the second weekend in a row.
Dundee University’s student association (DUSA) has meanwhile hit out at the “negativity surrounding halls these past 48 hours” as the organisation welcomed students during the opening weekend of its traditional welcome and fresher’s week.
A DUSA spokeswoman posted a welcome on social media to students arriving at university for the first time.
She said: “With all the negativity surrounding halls these past 48 hours we just wanted to take the time to wish the new students arriving at halls today the biggest welcome.
“We are intimately aware of how stressful this time has been for you and we want to help cultivate as much positivity about starting your university experience as possible.
“We know this was not the start to university life that you expected or deserved but we want to help make the most of it we can.”
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has urged students to sign a petition launched by the Liberal Democrats calling for fair treatment for Scottish students, for mass testing, for rent money to be returned and proper mental health support.
“Our students have been forgotten, mistreated and cheated,” he added.
“After having their results messed up and being left in limbo, they have finally arrived at university only to be told they can’t go to the pub, have friends over, or even visit home.
“Many are trapped in accommodation with relative strangers, and forced to pay rent for the privilege.”