Most of the cases were recorded in students, with around 9,000 in staff
Universities in England have reported more than 75,000 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the autumn term, the Department for Education has revealed.
The DfE data show that between 1 August 2020 and 7 April, universities recorded 76,546 Covid-19 cases among students and staff, with around 59,596 of those estimated to have occurred in the autumn term.
Of the total, 67,571 Covid-19 cases were among students and 8,975 among staff. Cases among students were split 55,219 in the autumn term and 12,352 in the spring term, while 4,377 of the staff cases occurred in the autumn term and 4,598 in the spring term.
The recent trend has been a decrease in cases despite more students on campus, the department said on 26 April.
The DfE pointed out that despite the higher number of students allowed back to campuses from 8 March, “weekly totals have continued to decline in the spring term” given the effects of the national lockdown on case rates.
In the week to 13 January, the DfE said there were 2,854 confirmed student cases and 1,227 confirmed staff cases. However, in the week to 7 April, there were 71 confirmed student and 21 confirmed staff cases.
In the autumn term, the DfE said there were 4,031 confirmed cases in the week to 4 November compared with 740 cases in the week to 16 December 2020, representing a decrease of 82 per cent. The DfE said the sharp fall in case rates in December “will be partly explained by student migration away from term-time accommodation that occurred around the student winter travel window”.
In February, a Public Health England survey found that half of all students living in halls of residence with large Covid-19 outbreaks had been exposed to the virus in the autumn term.