The second half of 2021 seems to see a return to normal. Yet the situation remains concerning with some 7,02 per 100,00 people in hospital with COVID at the end of August. At the same time, there were approximately 1,000 deaths per week.
This is a far cry from the thousands of deaths per day before the vaccination programmes got underway. However, we have a long way to go, and it is with the pending new academic year that current concerns turn.
What is Fresher’s Week?
Also known as Induction Week, Orientation Week, and several other names, this is the week before students begin their studies. It’s full of social events, meet your fellow course students and faculty. It’s also known as a week of endless parties.
And that is the major source of concern. Some members of the Independent Sage group expressed concern about “very large spikes” on COVID-19 traced back to Fresher’s Weeks across the country. With universities expecting a return to normal this year, they’ve been called “potential super spreader events.”
Alcohol and Low Inhibitions Could Spread COVID-19
While recklessness is a concern, a far bigger concern is the addition of alcohol. This is strongly associated with lower inhibitions. Even students with the best intentions, who are mindful of the need to distance to prevent spread, may forget or simple take risks which could lead to a spread of COVID-19.
Independent Sage said that despite the vaccine programme, the country is a much worse situation than a year ago as we head towards the autumn – traditionally spreading season for most contagious diseases.
Not Just Fresher’s Week – Halls Will Create Problems
Last year, students were largely confined to quarters and advised to mix as little as possible. Now, with all restrictions lifted and little social distancing – the close quarters living could continue to spread the virus. Students travel from all over the country, and even the world, and then take the virus back to people who remain clinically vulnerable.
Rise in Anxiety
Amid all the lifting of restrictions, many students report feeling anxious – even those who are double vaccinated have expressed concerns. The UK’s mental health charities have noted an increase in calls and searches for their services, specifically from students.
However, a spokesperson for the government said that guidance had been issues and universities were taking measures to minimise the spread of the disease. According to current statistics, 90% of students have been vaccinated or are due to get their second vaccinations by the end of September.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re studying, do what you can to stay safe as you head towards Fresher’s Week.