• Dragon Media

Covid: Staggered start dates confirmed for university students in Wales

By Olivia Grist

The Welsh Government announced that university students studying in Wales will be invited to return to campus over a four week period, starting from the 11th of January.

A phased return to in-person teaching will follow.

Those studying in healthcare professions, on placements, or who need access to campus facilities will be prioritised.

Atrium, Cardiff.

Students will also be asked to take two lateral-flow tests; the first when they return to their university accommodation, and the second three days later.

During this period those taking the tests are asked not to meet anyone socially.

Anyone who chooses not to be tested will be advised to isolate for 14 days.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, discussed the plans at the Welsh Government Coronavirus briefing.

Asked if he could reassure university students they wouldn’t have to follow the same isolation process as when they arrived in September, Dr. Atherton said: “We need to make sure students – as well as everybody else – try to keep their risk of transmission as low as possible.”

Co-Chair of the COVID 19 Vaccine Programme Board, Dr. Gillian Richardson, was also at the briefing.

She explained why students haven’t been prioritised for the new vaccine, which has now been approved in the U.K, despite evidence under 25’s are spreading the virus.

But for international students like Lucyna Polok, last-minute planning "isn’t good enough."

The second-year student, from Poland, said: “International students have to book their plane tickets months in advance otherwise they get too expensive or flights are fully booked.

Cardiff University student, Lucyna Polok.

“I think the government needs to make their decisions quicker because if I’d booked my flight back to Cardiff then had to change it, I may not have been able to return which would make it almost impossible for me to complete my studies.”

Photo courtesy of Public Health Wales.

Where in Wales has the highest cases?

Neath Port Talbot (NPT) has the highest case rate in Wales – 621.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Blaenau Gwent – almost 530 cases per 100,000 people.

Newport – 423 cases per 100,000 people.

Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) – 418.2 cases per 100,000 people.