University of Exeter

  1. University 'will do all we can' to help Christmas travel

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    A Devon university "will do all we can" to help students get home for Christmas, it has said.

    The government has unveiled plans to allow them to return home to be with their families for Christmas once the current England-wide lockdown ends on 2 December.

    The students will be expected to travel in allocated travel time slots from 3 to 9 December, and as many as possible will be offered Covid tests, with rapid results, to ensure they're safe to travel, the government said.

    Universities have also been told to move all teaching online from 9 December.

    However, any student who tests positive for Covid will be required to self-isolate for 10 days under the current guidelines. But the timing means they would still be able to get back for the Christmas holidays.

    They are also being strongly advised to travel during the "travel window".

    University of Exeter sign
    Quote Message: There are a number of practical challenges to overcome, but we will do all we can, working with students, staff, public health teams and local authorities to ensure safe travel in December so that everyone can enjoy the festive period wherever they choose to be. We will provide full details of our approach by the end of this week." from University of Exeter
    University of Exeter
  2. Exeter student mixing ban remains for another seven days

    Exeter Uni

    The University of Exeter is extending its mixing ban for students for another seven days.

    It means students should not meet indoors with those not part of their household.

    The ban came in after Covid-19 cases in Exeter leapt up to 438 per 100,000 residents for the week to 6 October, up 358 from the week before. More than 80% of cases were linked to the university.

    Bosses hope it will be the final time the mixing ban has to remain, although it will depend on whether Covid-19 cases continue to fall.

    There were 148 cases per 100,000 people in Exeter in the week 16-22 October. The average area in England had 135.

    The ban will continue until 2 November.

  3. Students warned over complacency despite Covid cases fall

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Students at the University of Exeter have been warned not to be complacent despite the number of coronavirus cases continuing to fall.

    The cluster of cases in the Pennsylvania & University area has fallen to 72 – 10 days ago it was 322 – and cases are dropping across the rest of Exeter.

    But Mike Shore-Nye, registrar and secretary at the university, said that while there is "good news"’ that the number of new cases were falling, the virus was not going away and will require people to follow public health advice for the long-term.

    Director of Public Health for Devon, Dr Virginia Pearson, said there had been a "successful reduction in student cases with no sign of significant spread thanks to the swift actions of the University and other partners in working together to contain the situation".

    She added: "But we must not be complacent. The pandemic is not going away and therefore we must adapt and expect to change the way we live, work, study and socialise for the long-term."

    University of Exeter students are being asked to not to mix households indoors in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus until at least 26 October, with the ban to be reviewed on Friday.

  4. Turtle sightings could be in decline says SW study

    BBC Radio Cornwall

    sea turtle

    The number of sea turtles spotted in UK waters could be in decline, according to new South West research.

    Experts from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory have been studying records of turtle sightings dating back more than 100 years.

    Sightings increased dramatically in the 80s and 90s - possibly due to more public interest in conservation - but the number of reports have dropped since the year 2000.

    Experts say it is not known why.

  5. Covid-19 cases in Exeter University area dip below 100

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The cluster of coronavirus cases in the Pennsylvania and university area of Exeter has dipped below 100 for the first time in more than two weeks.

    Having reached a figure of 322 on 10 October, the latest figures – which cover the period between 9 October and 15 October - show that the cluster has fallen to 88 cases.

    It comes as cases across Devon continue to show downward trend and for the second day running, more clusters have dropped off the map than have been added to it, with seven clusters removed compared to six being added.

    Other high clusters linked to the university area have also dropped with Central Exeter, also once over the 100 mark, down to 36, and St James’s Park and Hoopern down to 22.

  6. University students banned from mixing for another week

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Aerial view of Exeter's Streatham Campus

    A ban on University of Exeter students mixing with other households has been extended for a further seven days in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

    The latest statistics from Devon County Council showed there were 262 positive cases in Exeter up to 14 October, with Public Health England confirming more than 70% of these were linked to the university.

    The university said it remained in a "fragile position" and was "steadfast" in its commitment to fight the virus.

    Registrar and secretary Mike Shore-Nye added it would need to see "a clear trend" before lifting the restrictions.

    Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health for Devon, said new cases in the community showed the virus was spreading among the non-student population, and urged the city's residents to be "extra vigilant" in following public health advice.

  7. BCG: Can a vaccine from the 1920s save lives from Covid?

    James Gallagher

    Health and science correspondent, BBC News

    Scientists in the UK have started testing the BCG vaccine, developed in 1921, to see if it can save lives from Covid.

    The vaccine was designed to stop tuberculosis, but there is some evidence it can protect against other infections as well.

    About 1,000 people will take part in the trial at the University of Exeter.

    Vaccines are designed to train the immune system in a highly targeted way that leaves lasting protection against one particular infection.

    But this process also causes widespread changes in the immune system. This seems to heighten the response to other infections and scientists hope it may even give our bodies an advantage against coronavirus.

    "This could be of major importance globally," Prof John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, told the BBC.

    "Whilst we don't think it [the protection] will be specific to Covid, it has the potential to buy several years of time for the Covid vaccines to come through and perhaps other treatments to be developed."

    But while millions of people in the UK will have had the BCG jab as a child, it is thought they would need to be vaccinated again to benefit.

    You can find out more here.

    BCG (Bacillus Calmette-GuŽrin) vaccine for tuberculosis, pictured at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1931.
    Image caption: The BCG (Bacillus Calmette-GuŽrin) vaccine for tuberculosis was developed in 1921. Pictured here is doses of the medication at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1931
  8. Ban on Exeter students mixing in households extended

    The ban on students at Exeter University mixing with other households has been extended.

    This is to try and control the number of coronavirus cases within the community.

    Public Health England says 80% of the 532 cases recorded in Exeter in the week leading up to 6 October can be attributed to students.

    Exeter University says it is doing all it can and has thanked students for their compliance.

    Devon and Cornwall Police officers will be increasing patrols in the city to help.

  9. Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus has 'taken the life out of university’

    "I honestly don't really feel like I'm at university at all" says Exeter University student.

  10. Exeter coronavirus outbreak 'remains under control'

    BBC Radio Devon

    University of Exeter Covid sign

    The coronavirus outbreak in Exeter remains under control and 80% of the cases were contained within the university, Devon's public health boss has said.

    The city has an infection rate which is two-and-a-half times the average for England after 372 new cases were confirmed in the seven days to last Saturday.

    However, Dr Virgina Pearson (pictured), director of public health for Devon, said it was remaining under control.

    Dr Virgina Pearson
    Quote Message: First of all, it's contained at the moment. Secondly, although the numbers look very high, that's because we're doing a lot of testing, and that's a good thing. Thirdly, there's confidence in the local arrangements - we've have a daily outbreak control team that meets and we know that the students who have been advised by the university on what they should be doing are complying." from Dr Virgina Pearson Director of Public Health, Devon
    Dr Virgina PearsonDirector of Public Health, Devon

    The University of Exeter said earlier it would not hesitate to continue taking action against students who break coronavirus rules, and that a "handful" of students have been sent home for not keeping to the guidelines.

  11. University 'not hesitating in Covid breach action'

    BBC Radio Devon

    University of Exeter social distancing signs

    The University of Exeter will not hesitate to continue taking action against students who break coronavirus rules, senior bosses have said.

    What has been described as a "handful" of students have been sent home for not keeping to the guidelines.

    The city of Exeter has an infection rate which is two-and-a-half times the average for England after 372 new cases were confirmed in the seven days to last Saturday.

    Most cases have been in the student community, the institution has previously confirmed.

    Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Quine said he did "emphasise the great majority are really working with us and working sensibly".

    Quote Message: There have been a number of cases we've had to reprimand. We don't go straight to reprimand - we're following a model of education and encouragement first. We'd never exclude anyone from the university lightly, so it's always with regret." from Prof Tim Quine Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Exeter
    Prof Tim QuineDeputy Vice Chancellor, University of Exeter

    Meanwhile, health bosses have told the city's MP there was still no evidence that continuing rise in the number of Covid-19 cases linked to the university has spread to the rest of Exeter, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reports.

    Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "While Exeter is the top Covid hotspot in the south of England, we shouldn’t be over-alarmed about that.

    "In a small city like Exeter, with a large student population, all it takes is for there to be a couple of outbreaks in student halls for the city’s overall figures to look very high.

    “So far, according to local public health officials, wider community spread has been minimal, with the virus largely contained in student halls and shared student housing in the city."

  12. Churches bring cake to isolated Exeter students

    Churches in Exeter have been helping students who’re having to self-isolate as they arrive at university.

    Students

    They’ve been delivering home-made cake and toasties to help students settle in, along with emotional and practical support.

    Students in the city are not permitted to meet indoors with anyone outside their household after a spike in cases at the university.

    The Rev Helen Sherlock of the Unlimited Church said: "They are in a new housing situation with people they have never lived with before and cake always makes you feel better.

    "So the churches across Exeter decided if they wanted to email us we can bring them cake and build relationships if that's what they want."

    Student and churchgoer Jenna Fisher said: "I tell me friends what we are doing and they say 'That's such a kind thing and it's incredible that people are reaching out.'"

  13. Covid-19 cases in Exeter 'above the national average'

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, the number of new cases being confirmed in Exeter has risen above the national average.

    There have been 78 cases confirmed in Exeter in the last seven days – a rate of 59.4 per 100,000 people - the average for England is 55.4 per 100,000.

    Asked whether there were any discussions around a local lockdown for Exeter, a Devon County Council spokesman said: “A decision of a magnitude of a city-wide lockdown would be made at a national level.

    "At the moment, case numbers are not there.”

    Building

    Areas of concern do not get local lockdown rules immediately but are flagged on the watchlist to ensure they get extra testing capacity and are more closely monitored.

    Areas for enhanced support are those at a medium-high risk of intervention where there is a more detailed plan, agreed with the national authorities, while areas of intervention see ‘local lockdown’ rules imposed.

    Despite case rates in Exeter being higher than some areas of the country on the the government’s coronavirus watchlist, the city was not added when the changes were made late on Thursday.

    This is because despite the incidence being higher than some areas on the watchlist, the cases have mainly been confined to university students with no evidence yet of onward community transmission, and some of the areas on the list are geographically surrounded by areas where the incidence is much higher, which isn’t the case in Devon.

    Steve Brown, deputy director of Public Health Devon, has thanked university students for responding to the new additional measures to curb the coronavirus infection and said it was essential that everyone in the city’s community continued to follow the rules to help prevent the spread of the virus.

  14. 'I told you so', say residents on uni coronavirus spike

    BBC Radio Devon

    Some people in Exeter think problems with coronavirus were inevitable with the return of students to the city.

    Exeter University

    The university said about 100 students are self-isolating after its own testing system picked up a number of positive Covid-19 cases.

    Jonathan Kirby, from the Powderham Residents' Association, said: "My reaction to this is: 'I told you so'.

    "Nobody should be surprised that with all these students coming back that there would be contact and spread of coronavirus.

    "It was absolutely bound to happen and you don't have to be an expert to see it coming and it's here."

    The latest BBC analysis shows Exeter has the highest rate of Covid cases in the South West and has seen a big rise week-on-week.

    Coronavirus

    Deputy Vice Chancellor Tim Quine said the "wider community" should take great reassurance from the university's testing and tracing programme.

    "We can turn round tests in 24 hours so we are able to identify positive cases rapidly and make sure that they self isolate," he said.

  15. Exeter sees highest rate of Covid cases in South West

    BBC Radio Devon

    Exeter has the highest rate of Covid cases in the South West and has seen a big rise week-on-week.

    In the seven days to last Friday, the number of cases in the city went from 11 to 70. Public Health England said that more than half of those were attributable to infections in University of Exeter students.

    Plymouth had 64 cases - a rise of 27.

    Only the Mid Devon district recorded a decrease in cases.

    Exeter
  16. Students told not to meet 'anyone not part of household'

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    Students at the University of Exeter are being told not to meet indoors "with anyone who is not part of your household" for the next 14 days in a bid to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

    Public Health England said that, of 116 cases reported in Devon over the past seven days, 67 were in Exeter and over half of those were attributable to the university.

    It is one of about 40 universities around the UK with reports of coronavirus cases.

    The university said it had agreed with Public Health England, Devon County Council and Exeter City Council to ask students "to take significant additional measures to stop the spread of infection" between students, and to prevent transmission to the wider community.

    Such a move was "necessary for us all to avoid further local restrictions, of the type already seen in a number of other universities", it added.

    The only exceptions are:

    • When students are attending educational sessions on campus
    • When they are working or volunteering
    • When they are taking part in an organised sporting session
    • If they are required to support a vulnerable member of the community
    • In the case of an emergency where you and others are in danger

    The restrictions would be kept "under regular review", it added.

    Outside the current household, students should also "observe the Rule of Six and all other social distancing measures at all times".

    An online groceries service was to open for students who were self-isolating or quarantining in self-catered halls "should you need to order basic provisions to be delivered to your block", it said.

    The university warned that breaking a period of self-isolation was a criminal offence, "punishable by large fines and this will also result in significant sanctions from the university that can include suspension and expulsion".

    Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon, said Exeter's cases were "contained" and remained "predominantly in the student population and centred around a small number of households in a small area of the city".

    University of Exeter sign
  17. University student: 'I do not feel safe'

    BBC Radio Cornwall

    Cornish student Keron Day explains why he's made the difficult decision to head home from university.

    Keron, who has cerebral palsy, has left the University of Exeter campus due to coronavirus fears, saying he could not risk contracting coronavirus as cases at the campus continued to rise.

    Video content

    Video caption: Keron, who has cerebral palsy, has left the Exeter campus due to coronavirus fears.