RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS CONNECTION BETWEEN NIGHTCLUB IN CAMBRIDGE & CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COVID-19 CASES
An article by Rachel Hall in the Guardian on 1 June 2021 reported on research showing that three-quarters of Covid-19 cases at Cambridge University last Autumn were linked to a single nightclub. Also posted is another article by Alex McIntyre in CheshireLive, also on 1 June 2021, reported that a surge in coronavirus cases in Northwich was linked to a single super-spreader on a night out, forcing a bar to close.
Autumn Cambridge University Covid cases linked to one nightclub
Students who attended events during freshers’ week and over Halloween were source of biggest infection cluster
Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus cases among University of Cambridge students last autumn have been traced back to a single nightclub, highlighting the risks of reopening venues in the next phase of the UK government’s roadmap.
Students who attended socially distanced events during freshers’ week and over Halloween were the source of the biggest infection cluster at the university, according to researchers who analysed the effectiveness of Cambridge’s coronavirus screening programme, which tested 10,000 students weekly at its peak and was the largest in the UK.
Genomic sequencing showed that the virus spread rapidly among students who mixed between households and courses on nights out. Cases fell dramatically once the second lockdown was announced, as students complied with the rules and socialised within households of six to 20. Further outbreaks were curtailed by the expansion of a PCR testing programme, which the university estimates reduced the rate of transmission by a third.
Nicholas Matheson, the researcher at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (CITIID) who designed the screening programme, said the findings could prove instructive for the next phase of the government’s reopening plans, under which nightclubs could reopen on 21 June.
“The demographics of the people who might attend nightclubs are also in general terms people who’re not yet vaccinated,” he said. “Our data is definitely supportive of a role for coronavirus testing in helping to control infections – but we don’t think it’s a magic bullet, it should be part of a package of measures.”
Dinesh Aggarwal, a researcher at Cambridge’s medical school, said venues could work in collaboration with researchers to use genomic sequencing to establish how they could open in safer ways, for instance using ventilation or different forms of social distancing, as well as which activities could be hosted safely.
Cambridge could also serve as a template for other universities, which struggled to contain mass outbreaks on campus at the beginning of the autumn term last year. Young people aged 18-22 are at the end of the vaccine queue, meaning it is uncertain whether most students will have been double-vaccinated before starting university in September.
Matheson advocated that universities take a pragmatic approach to allowing students to socialise, striking a balance between allowing mass events with widespread mixing to go ahead and confining students to small households. “An alternative is to provide facilities for socialising in a way we think may be overall less risky,” he said.
Matheson said that although universities were planning for a number of different scenarios depending on vaccination levels, the situation with new variants and national infection rates, testing would definitely feature across campuses during the next academic year.
“The most favourable end of the spectrum may see a limited role for testing, that might involve PCR testing a fraction of students on a regular basis for surveillance purposes. Less favourable scenarios would require surge testing or regular screening,” he said.
The Cambridge researchers found most transmission took place within halls of residence and among students on the same course, and that spreading to the local community or between staff and students was limited.
Four-fifths of students at Cambridge agreed to swab their noses and throats weekly. Swabs were then pooled in the same sample tube as other students from their household, making the programme cheaper and more efficient. These were then analysed at the Cambridge Covid-19 testing centre in collaboration with AstraZeneca and Charles River Laboratories.
Nearly half (45%) of the 671 students diagnosed with coronavirus during term time were identified or pre-emptively asked to self-isolate due to the screening programme.
Northwich super spreader on night out causes town outbreak of Covid cases as bar forced to shut
The pub decided to close temporarily to protect staff and customers, blaming the spread on a 'member of the public'
A surge in coronavirus cases has been confirmed in Northwich after one pub closed its doors, saying the outbreak was down to "a member of the public" who was on a night out.
Posting on Facebook, The Quayside pub on Witton Street confirmed that they had decided to shut temporarily in order to protect staff and customers.
A further post stated that a member of the public had "entered a number of public houses in Northwich" during the weekend of May 22, including The Quayside.
On Friday evening (May 28), Cheshire West and Chester Council said there had been an outbreak "linked to a pub" and that positive cases in the area were "on the rise".
A message posted on the Quayside Facebook page said: "We would like to inform all our lovely customers, that unfortunately due to the rise in COVID in Northwich this week we as a business have taken the hard decision to close our doors, this will be until all of our staff have taken a PCR test and while we completely sanitise our premises.
"This is a heartbreaking decision for us to make after the hardest year for all businesses but we have to protect all our staff and customers as safety is paramount.
"We will keep you all informed on when we will be reopening and hope to see you this bank holiday weekend."
A further statement on the Facebook page said that the pub would remain closed until all staff members have had PCR tests.
It read: "We now have confirmation that a member of public has entered a number of public houses in Northwich over the weekend, Quayside being one of them.
"ALL our staff have weekly lateral flow tests however we have taken the decision ourselves to close our doors until all staff have full PCR tests.
"The health and safety of all our staff and customers is our main priority, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the spread is minimal."
CheshireLive understands that there is currently up to 20 cases of coronavirus linking to the 'super spreader' out in town on the evening of May 22.
In a social media post on Friday (May 28), Cheshire West and Chester Council urged people who were "out and about" in Northwich that evening to get a PCR test.
It read: "Did you go out in Northwich last Saturday? We are recommending that anyone out and about in the town on the evening of Saturday, 22 May should get a PCR test.
"There has been an outbreak linked to a pub and positive cases in the area are on the rise."