YUSU and GSA: Coronavirus updates

Tuesday 4 February, 6pm

Public Health England (PHE), as part of its on-going investigation into coronavirus in York, has now confirmed that the diagnosed student has a tenancy at Vita Student, a private student accommodation provider located in the City.

PHE has also confirmed that the student was not in Vita Student accommodation when they came into contact with the virus, but did return to their room on one occasion and stayed overnight. During this brief period the student did not meet other residents or staff at the building or make use of the communal facilities. PHE has confirmed that they do not need to undertake any contact tracing with residents of Vita Student.

This additional information has come to light as part of PHE’s ongoing investigations and after they conducted further interviews with those affected by the virus. PHE confirms while this is new information, it does not change their risk assessment of ‘low’, and that there is negligible risk of onward transmission of the virus.

The accommodation is used by students from both University of York and York St John University. We recognise that this additional information from PHE may cause concern especially for students living in Vita Student.

University of York and York St John University are working with colleagues at Vita Student to provide additional advice and support for the residents. This will come in the form of a team from both universities and Vita Student, who will be at the residence this evening to answer any questions and provide other support and guidance.

We would like to reassure the students at Vita Student accommodation that PHE has stressed that they are not at risk and no further precautionary measures are necessary. There are no restrictions of any kind to students’ ability to come and go from their apartments and to attend all classes and seminars as normal.

We would also like to underline that the wellbeing, privacy and anonymity of the affected student remains paramount and we ask people to respect that.

The dedicated call centre at the University of York remains open for staff and students at both universities, and the wider York community, should they have any further concerns or questions. The number is 01904 809571 and will be open until 10pm on 4th February.

The University is continuing to liaise closely with senior staff at PHE who are taking the lead in all aspects of the management of the investigation. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular advice and updates to our students and staff as and when any new information becomes available from PHE’s ongoing investigation.

Max Bielby, Managing Director of Vita Student, said: “As confirmed by Public Health England (PHE), the affected student is a resident in our City of York accommodation, and did return to their apartment for an overnight period. We are reassured that the PHE investigation has established that the student did not come into contact with any other resident in the Vita Student development, and that no additional precautionary measures are required. Ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents is Vita Student’s utmost priority and we will continue to follow and share all guidance provided by PHE with our residents. Support and advice is being provided by Vita Student in conjunction with PHE as well as the University of York and York St John University to concerned residents.”

FAQ Available here

A translated statement is available here


Saturday 1 February, 7.00pm
The University’s coronavirus incident response team have held further discussions with senior colleagues in Public Health England. PHE’s analysis of the situation, combined with the University’s own internal investigations, confirm the following:

The diagnosed student was not on campus or in student accommodation for the period before they were exposed to the virus.
The diagnosed student was not on campus or in student accommodation after being exposed to the virus.
This means that we can again reiterate PHE’s assurance that the risk level to our staff and students remains low.

Respecting patient confidentiality and the privacy of our student is paramount and we want to reiterate what our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said in his statement to the media earlier today,

“We recognise that there is significant media interest in this situation but we would appeal to all of you to respect the privacy of those now under the care of the NHS, and our wider community of staff and students.”

We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and we will continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to anyone affected by this situation, and as directed by Public Health England. We will continue to post any further information as and when it becomes available on this web page.

Saturday 1 February, 11.00am

Further to reports that the two cases of coronavirus diagnosed in England concerned two individuals in York, Public Health England (PHE) have now informed us that one of the two individuals to have tested positive for coronavirus is a student at the University of York. We understand this development will cause concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community.

Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the health and continued wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors.

We are working closely with NHS services and Public Health England who are taking the lead in responding to the case and we will take direction from them in all aspects of this situation.

We want to reassure you that PHE has advised us that the risk of infection being passed to others on campus is low. Current information from PHE suggests that the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus whilst they had symptoms but PHE investigations are ongoing to fully establish this.

All relevant public health information, including regular updates, is posted at www.gov.uk/coronavirus. If people have any concerns about their health in relation to suspected coronavirus we ask that they follow current PHE advice and contact NHS 111.

The University has already had some calls about the prior media coverage that had reported that the diagnosed individuals had been in York. We have therefore created a call centre to deal with any further queries from staff and students. Anyone who has any further concerns or inquiries should contact 01904 809571.

The University’s media relations team are leading on all aspects of engagement and liaison with the media for the university, in partnership with PHE.

The University continues to operate normally. We are monitoring the situation closely and we will continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community.

YUSU and GSA are following current information from Public Health England (PHE) in conjunction with the University of York. For more information and FAQ please view the University’s update site here: https://www.york.ac.uk/alert/

1st February 2020