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Scientists warn universities are ‘human petri dishes’

by Mark Fitt Political Journalist
2nd Oct 20 2:22 pm

Scientific experts have warned that universities are “human petri dishes” for spreading coronavirus as students have travelled from all parts of the UK and are sharing accommodation.

At least 45 universities are now experiencing outbreaks and coronavirus infections are the highest amongst 17 to 24-year olds.

Professor Christina Pagel of University College London (UCL) said the latest figures shows that infections across the UK are “slowing but still growing.”

However, she warned, “New restrictions have bought us some time but now we need to start doing some fixing.”

She added, that the nation was “not in a good place” and “on a knife edge.”

Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews said, “We need an overall integrated strategy and a critical part of that strategy must be test and trace.

“Restrictions without test and trace are pointless.”

Independent SAGE said that the government’s latest restrictions are slowing the spread of the infection and has “bought some time.”

They warned that without an effective system of testing it is “pointless.” Over the last two weeks test and trace capacity appears to be down as 10% fewer cases are being reached.

Neuroscientist Professor Karl Friston, also of UCL also warned, “The headline from the quantitative modelling of recent trends in new cases is clear: now is the time for ‘shoe-leather’ epidemiology.

“In short, a redeployment of resources away from remote ‘call centres’ to local and experienced public health teams who can find, monitor, and support people who have acquired the infection, and their contacts.

“Crucially, this kind of contact tracing can only be done effectively using local knowledge [e.g. cultural aspects], expertise and detective work.

“It is not dependent on an overstretched testing infrastructure – tests are an important adjunct to identifying cases and may be better deployed for the asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases.”

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