Two coronavirus cases hit UK universities as graduation ceremonies postponed

Cases of coronavirus have been confirmed at two UK universities – as another cancels its graduation ceremonies over fears of the disease.

Students at Goldsmiths in south London have been informed that a visitor to one of the university's halls of residences has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Goldsmiths College says the case was discovered at one of its seven halls of residents – Chesterman House accommodation.

In an email, the university said the person was "being looked after" and that the student they were staying with is "self-isolating as a precautionary measure".

Queen's University in Belfast said they had been informed by the Public Health Agency of a "presumptive positive case of COVID-19" within the university community.

Meanwhile, the University of Buckingham announced it had postponed its graduation ceremonies "as a precaution against coronavirus".

The university does not have any cases of the virus, Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser reports.

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In a statement issued by Goldsmiths today, the college, which is part of the University of London and who's Chancellor is Princess Anne, said the student the guest had visited had been put into self isolation as a precaution.

In a statement the college in New Cross, south east London said: "A guest visiting a hall of residence used by Goldsmiths students has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

"Following advice from NHS 111, the Goldsmiths student they were staying with is self-isolating as a precautionary measure.

"Everyone is being supported by accommodation staff and we are in contact with the other students in Chesterman.

"We are tracing movements of the person diagnosed with coronavirus and the student who has self-isolated.

"We will work with relevant departments at Goldsmiths and the local NHS health protection team to contact anyone who is considered at risk of contracting the virus from them."

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The statement continued: "If you are concerned you have been in close contact with them call NHS 111 and follow their advice.

"We are also working with Campus Living Villages who manage Chesterman House.

"We had already escalated Goldsmiths' response to coronavirus to the level of Business Continuity Planning.

"This included having a plan for a confirmed case in university accommodation which colleagues are working to.

"A Critical Incident Group of senior staff has been planning how to respond to the virus since January. They will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed.

"At this point, Goldsmiths buildings and services are open as normal. We'll keep students and staff informed by email and this section of our website.

"We understand that this is a worrying time for those affected and for the whole Goldsmiths community.

"We will continue to consult closely with Public Health England and are taking all appropriate measures to protect our community."

The college – which originated as an art college – has 10,000 students – 20 per cent of which are foreign students.

Alumni include artists' Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley, and film director Steve McQueen who directed 12 Years a Slave.

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A statement on Queen's University's website reads: "We have been informed by the Public Health Agency of a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within our University community.

"We are working closely with the authorities to ensure that the individual receives the best care.

"We are now working with the Public Health Agency to trace anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they are supported to receive medical attention if required and to take all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect the welfare of all within the wider University community.

"The University is open and operating as normal. Please continue to refer to this FAQs page and the latest official advice and guidance from the Public Health Agency and other statutory bodies."

Due to the Government’s precautionary warnings around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of Buckingham decided to postpone its graduation ceremonies which were originally scheduled for the 20th and 21st of March.

The University said it welcomes students of more than 100 different nationalities to the University and were looking forward to hosting the momentous occasion designed to celebrate their achievements.

They will be rescheduling the event for later in the year to ensure that they can congratulate all graduates with the level of ceremony and celebrations they deserve, the University said.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon added: "After careful consideration, we believe this to be the best decision for our students and their guests.

"While we understand there will be disappointment at the news of a postponement, the health and safety of our students and their friends and family is of the utmost importance to us.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope that everyone will still join us for the ceremony later this year."

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