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‘A national disgrace’: Student body slams lack of testing after coronavirus outbreak at Perth College

Students at Perth College
Students at Perth College

The student president of Perth College has slammed the lack of coronavirus testing at further education level as a “national disgrace” after confirmed cases at the Fair City institution.

Three students returned positive tests at Perth College UHI following a face-to-face learning class resulting in six students and three staff members being forced to self-isolate at home.

Perth College was made aware of the results on Tuesday evening, forcing a deep clean of the affected areas – which did not include the student halls.

Students and staff members told to self-isolate after confirmed Covid-19 cases at Perth College

Both the Scottish and UK Governments have came under fire for their handling of the return to education after a number of halls of residencies, including two connected to Abertay University in Dundee, were placed in lockdown.

Alex Wilson, Highlands and Islands Student Association (HISA) Perth President, said the lack of testing has left students “feeling abandoned”.

She told The Courier: “HISA believes that the failure of the governments to anticipate these outbreaks and the lack of testing infrastructure is a national disgrace.

“It has left students feeling abandoned after they were encouraged to return to campus and assured it would be safe.

“It is now vital that both the UK and Scottish Governments prioritise providing more testing kits across the country as quickly as possible.”

Coronavirus: More than 80 positive cases among Dundee students

The president of the student body believes the college reacted swiftly to the outbreak and that people were following guidelines while attending the limited number of face-to-face classes currently available on campus.

She said: “We believe that the affected students were alerted as soon as possible, with swift action taken by Perth College UHI senior management and student support teams in ensuring that both staff and students were informed promptly, including regular updates to the college website and social media accounts.

“We want our students to know that there are various support services available to them and we will be working with Perth College UHI to ensure there is mental health support and access to all essentials for any students in self isolation as a result of this outbreak.”

Perth College

Depute First Minister John Swinney called the outbreak “concerning” and wished the diagnosed a “speedy recovery”.

The Perthshire SNP politician said: “It is now vitally important that all contacts are traced and that the relevant Scottish Government guidance relating to self-isolating is followed.”

His colleague Pete Wishart MP said he would be meeting with the HISA president on Friday.

He said: “I will be following the situation closely and have confidence in the local health protection team and staff at Perth College UHI to take the necessary precautions.”

The UK Government said that students returning to universities was a matter for Holyrood.

Their spokesperson added: “The UK Government is delivering the bulk of covid testing in Scotland, as part of an extensive UK-wide system.

“We are continuing to open new testing sites across the country to help increase capacity in Scotland.”

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