News / coronavirus

Student at University of Bristol tests positive for coronavirus

By ellie pipe, Thursday Mar 12, 2020

Health bosses say they are working with the University of Bristol to reduce risk and manage the situation after a student tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

The person, who recently returned from abroad, followed advice from Public Health England (PHE) and self-isolated before displaying symptoms.

There are currently 44 confirmed cases in the South West and three in Bristol according to Public Health England. Further cases are expected amid a rise in diagnoses across the country.

The council has issued assurances it is well prepared to deal with the situation if it escalates.


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Professor Sarah Purdy, pro vice-chancellor at the University of Bristol, says the institution is taking the situation very seriously, but has been advised the risk to the community remains “very low”.

“The student followed PHE advice and self-isolated in private accommodation before they displayed symptoms. PHE do not consider individuals infectious until they develop symptoms,” said Purdy.

“We are supporting the student to ensure they have everything they need to recover quickly from the illness.

“PHE has advised us that the risk to our community is very low. We do not currently need to take any additional actions and the university remains open as normal.

“Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and their family, along with the health and wellbeing of our university staff, students and visitors. We are grateful that this student followed PHE advice and took proactive steps to self-isolate.

“PHE has advised us that they will trace anyone who was in contact with the student after they experienced symptoms to ensure they are offered appropriate advice.

“We have been planning for instances of outbreak since January and are confident we are well prepared.

“We are taking this situation very seriously and understand this development may cause concern among our students, staff, and the wider community.”

Christina Gray, director of public health for Bristol City Council, said: “We are working closely with the university to manage the situation and reduce further risk.

“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure any risk to them and the wider public can be minimised.

“Further cases of COVID-19 are expected in Bristol as we see rises in diagnoses across the UK. We are fully prepared for this. We are working with city partners in the NHS and health and social care teams to contain the virus spread, and help the public understand what they can do to avoid catching the virus.”

She added: “Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and, if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.”

Anyone who has recently been to one of the affected areas, or who us feeling unwell should call the NHS 111 or use the online service. Do not go to a doctor or hospital.

The university says support for students and staff with concerns is available through its information and wellbeing services.

For further advice, visit:

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