Wolfson said that they “wish to be prepared to support any such students who do eventually need to self-isolate”Louis Ashworth

At least five Cambridge colleges have sought support volunteers to help look after students who may have to undergo a self-isolation period due to the new coronavirus.

Newnham offered to train and pay ‘Student Supporters’ £9.80 per hour to assist any students who may be required to enter self-isolation. Wolfson College has said supporters will receive up to three free meals per day from the College Cafeteria, or £20 on days when the College kitchens are closed.

Tasks for ‘Student Supporters’ include delivering meals from the cafeteria or buttery to self-isolating students and checking on them over the phone. Students would not be expected to be in contact with those who are self-isolating.

Pembroke is currently supporting two students in self-isolation. An email sent to all College members noted that they are “especially grateful to those who have volunteered as Self-Isolation Supporters and are now working with us to help make sure that the time in isolation is as comfortable and as problem-free as possible”.

There is also one St. Catharine’s student in self-isolation, according to an email sent to college members today. Two members of the Jesus College community are also in self-isolation in private accommodation.

The NHS is advising that anyone who has visited the countries or areas with a higher rate of the virus call 111 to confirm whether self-isolation is necessary.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Cambridge, but tutors have warned that students might have to be quarantined if they return to Cambridge from a high risk area or show symptoms of the virus.

Wolfson sent an email to students which said that although there are no self-isolating students in the College at the moment they “wish to be prepared to support any such students who do eventually need to self-isolate”.

The College emphasised that it “is not a role of medical or pastoral responsibility” and that it will not involve any personal contact with the students who are self-isolating.

Jesus College also called for "Self-Isolation Supporters" who would "receive training from the College Nurse on basic infection control procedures".

An email sent around Lucy Cavendish, meanwhile, recommended that students find friends who would be willing to act as their ‘virus buddies’. The message said that the College will provide this support as well, but that “it might be nicer to have friends helping out”.

In their self-isolation guide, Lucy Cavendish states that students in isolation will receive an ‘isolation pack’ that will include facemasks, gloves and over shoes. Students should remain in their rooms for 14 days but should use these protective items if the use of common areas is unavoidable.

King's College told students in an email today that if they are required to self-isolate they will be "fully supported academically, pastorally and would be assigned 2 supporters who would ensure that your meals were delivered and would keep in touch with you via social media and/or phone."

Pembroke, Lucy Cavendish, Newnham and Wolfson have all been contacted for comment.

In an email addressed to all students, the Vice Chancellor has stated that “the likelihood remains high that the first instances of infection will be reported soon”.

Professor Toope said colleges are making arrangements for self-isolation measures as well as other possible disruptions and concluded by saying that “at a time of crisis and uncertainty we can draw great strength from one another. I ask that we all continue to follow the official guidance, and in doing so continue to support and show solidarity with each other as best we can.”

The university has also created a Coronavirus Information Website, where students can read the latest government advice on health and travel.

Updated 11 March 9.29pm: This article was updated to include information about Jesus and King's colleges. This article was updated again on 12 March 11:50am to correct an inaccuracy and clarify that no students staying within Jesus College are currently undergoing self-isolation.

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