Full statement from NHS Lothian on Covid-19 cluster at our student accommodation

Date posted

16 September 2020


Last updated

24 September 2020

24 September 2020

The number of students testing positive for Covid-19 in university accommodation across Lothian has increased in recent days.

Public health experts in NHS Lothian are urging all students to follow all national guidance to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They reminded them that a student flat is a household. That means students can’t visit anyone else’s flat or go to an indoor venue with people who are not their flatmates.

Universities are continuing to provide clear-cut guidance for students, who live in halls that are not divided into flats so that they know what counts as a household for them.

Where students have face to face learning with a group that is not in their household, they can’t then go out socially as a group.

Parties must be online only and they urged them to remember FACTS – Face coverings in enclosed spaces; Avoid Crowded Places; Clean your hands and surfaces regularly; Two metre distancing; Self isolate and book a test if you develop symptoms.

So far, more than 125 students have tested positive and people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases have been asked to self-isolate to protect other students and their communities.

By Thursday morning a total of 120 cases have been confirmed from Edinburgh Napier University, a small number in University of Edinburgh and a small number in Queen Margaret University. 

The outbreak in Edinburgh Napier University has been investigated and is managed by a multi-disciplinary Incident Management Team (IMT), chaired by NHS Lothian.

The Health Protection Team in NHS Lothian is working with all of the universities to provide any advice around infection control measures and enhance testing arrangements for students in the affected halls of residence.

All of the universities and colleges in Edinburgh have stringent precautions in place and remain open for teaching and learning.

Professor Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said:  “This is a really important time for all of our students and we need them to stay safe. They must follow national advice and all of the Covid-19 prevention and infection control guidance that has been put in place to protect them.

“When someone is asked to self-isolate as a case or a contact they must stay in their room on their own to help us prevent the infection from spreading. You cannot go out except to be tested.

“Social gatherings and parties spread Covid-19. They are not allowed in Scotland because of the immediate and longer-term health risks from Covid-19. If you hear of one, don’t go.

“We know this is a worrying time for students, staff and their families. If everyone follows the guidance we can keep the spread of Covid-19 under control.

“Students should be alert to the symptoms of Covid-19.  If they develop symptoms then they should self isolate, inform their key link person at their university and arrange testing.”

If students or staff experience any of the Covid-19 symptoms (fever, loss of sense of smell or taste and new and persistent cough) they should book a test.

For more information please visit the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot or for non-clinical advice call the helpline 0800 028 2816.

17 September 2020

NHS Lothian’s Health Protection team are investigating a cluster of cases who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Edinburgh Napier University’s Bainfield student accommodation.

To respect and maintain patient confidentiality, no further details will be released.

The Health Protection team are contacting individuals and any close contacts Living in university accommodation. Appropriate advice and guidance to self-isolate, is being provided.  Enhanced cleaning and safety measures are already in place in the University in line with national guidance.

If someone has been in close contact with a confirmed case, they will be contacted and given advice about what they should do. If you have been contacted regarding these cases by NHS Lothian you should isolate for 14 days even if you do not develop any symptoms. You do not need to be tested unless you become symptomatic with either a new and continuous cough, a fever, a loss or change in smell or taste.

The University remains open and operational as normal. All students and staff, who have not been asked to self-isolate, should continue to attend as normal.
Everyone should continue to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and take all precautions, such as maintaining social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing a face covering where appropriate.

If you experience a high fever, persistent cough or loss of taste or smell, you must self-isolate and order a test through the NHS Inform website.

You should get tested in the first three days of symptoms appearing, although testing is effective until day five. You won’t normally be tested after day five unless it’s for a specific reason. This will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Further information on Covid-19, including symptom checkers and general testing advice, is available on the NHS Inform website.

A full list of FAQs for parents is also available on NHS Lothian’s website.