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Manchester Metropolitan University must share full details of Covid cases

22 September 2020

UCU has called on Manchester Metropolitan University to share full details of Covid-19 cases at the institution with staff. In a response to the union this morning the university said it would only share anonymised cases on a weekly basis.

Yesterday, the union wrote the university asking for the numbers of Covid-19 cases at the university. The union said it has received reports of cases in every faculty of the university, with reports of multiple cases in the business school.

The union called for full transparency and for the university to put the safety of staff, students and the local community first.

UCU has also called on the university to move all teaching online immediately. The union has previously called for online learning to be universities' default position in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

This morning, the government has called on staff to work from home where they are able. Yesterday Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned of 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths a day a month later if the current rate of infection was not halted. 

Last week, UCU launched a monitoring system for its members to contact the union directly with concerns they had about their institutions' plans to deal with the Covid threat. The union said it would name universities and colleges that were not up to scratch and any institution not preparing to deal with a local outbreak was in denial about the severity of the challenges they would most likely face.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'Manchester Metropolitan University has to come clean on the number of cases at the university and immediately halt unnecessary in-person teaching. The safety of staff, students and the local community has to be the number one priority.

'More widely, the university sector and the government must address this public health crisis immediately. It is not enough to plan to manage Covid-19 outbreaks when we could be working to prevent them. 

'Universities have to abandon plans for in-person teaching. We have been warning for weeks of the dangers of universities persisting with in-person teaching, especially without a UK-wide track and trace system and regular testing of students and staff. Without urgent action, it will be impossible for universities to avoid becoming incubators of Covid-19 and university communities becoming transmission hotspots.'

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