Senior members of Downing met with University and Public Health representatives yesterday to discuss the College's rising Covid numbersHerbert baker

Downing College senior staff met with the “University and local public representatives” at 4pm on Tuesday (20/10) as cases of Covid-19 at the College continue to rise.

As of Wednesday (21/10) afternoon, Downing has 21 confirmed cases, with 130 students self-isolating across 27 households.

In an email sent to all students yesterday by the assistant bursar (21/10), the College warned students that if cases continue to “rise rapidly within College” Downing may “begin to attract attention across the University and the City.”

The assistant bursar already received a call on Monday morning from the University notifying him that “local public health had become concerned at the numbers they were seeing in Downing”, the email details.

The email to students highlighted that the “total number of infections has risen, even while our asymptomatic tests have, for this week at least, evened out slightly”, this is explained by the “number of infections rising within households that are already isolating.”

However, the College’s assistant bursar drew attention to the current situation at Homerton, where a meeting between College Senior Staff and Public Health representatives last Friday (16/10) resulted in 223 students being told to isolate “even if there were no cases within their household”.

The Downing assistant bursar outlined that the local Public Health representatives expressed concerns about the potential for "College residents to transmit infection into other parts of the University or City.” Potential preventive measures discussed during the meeting included “confining particular student cohorts to College grounds” and “precautionary isolations of buildings or areas where infections were concentrated.”

The College also urged students to be even more considerate “than usual for the welfare of others”, referencing a “small number of incidents over the weekend” whereby porters were called to households that had received noise complaints from other students.

The email continued to stress to students that they must continue to observe government guidelines: “Anecdotally, it has been suggested that, within some households, resident students are not concerned with transmission amongst themselves. Government, University, and College advice is that this type of transmission does matter and that you should take all necessary steps to avoid it happening.”


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223 students in Homerton West House accommodation told to isolate following 18 positive cases

The email further reinforced that students must “observe COVID-safe behaviour when encountering members of staff”, emphasising that “staff similarly need and deserve” consideration.

The College will again meet with University and local Public Health representatives today (22/10) as well as outlining an expectation that Senior Staff members will continue “to hold subsequent meetings while our numbers remain high relative to many other Colleges.”

Increasing concerns at Downing follows shortly after 223 students in Homerton’s West House accommodation were told to isolate last Friday (16/10). Meanwhile the University-wide screening programme detected 34 asymptomatic cases in its second week of functioning alongside a further 120 symptomatic cases.

Downing College were contacted by Varsity for comment.