News of the cases, a student and a member of staff, come amid concern about the return of students and staff to St Andrews and how any outbreaks will be managed in the community. There have been multiple reports of student parties and on Monday, Police were called to the West Sands to break up groups of partying students. However, the two reported cases are not thought to have acquired the infection in St Andrews. (A further student case was reported by the University on the 15th September)
The likely source of infection in all three cases is understood to have been the result of close contact with confirmed cases outwith the Fife Health Board area. There is no evidence at this stage that the two cases are linked and the risk of onward transmission within the wider community is considered to be low by NHS Fife. Both positive cases are currently experiencing mild symptoms and are isolating at home while contact tracers from the Test and Protect Team are in the process of identifying and tracing the known contacts of the positive cases to provide public health support and advice.
NHS Fife Director of Public Health, Dona Milne, said: “We appreciate that students, and indeed residents of the town, may well be concerned, however, there is no indication of any link between the cases and the risk of contracting coronavirus remains low.
“Contact tracing is a tried and tested method of breaking the chains of transmission for communicable viruses such as COVID-19. As part of the Test and Protect programme, systems are in place to identify close contacts of positive cases quickly to reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread further. It remains vital that anyone experiencing the well-established symptoms of COVID-19, such as a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, arranges to be tested using the UK Government Citizens’ Portal or by calling 0800 028 2816.”
University of St Andrews Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, added: “We are working closely with NHS Fife and Public Health Scotland, and our University Covid Rapid Response Team is ensuring that the NHS Test and Protect team has speedy access to any information it requires for contact tracing. What it demonstrates is that our systems are working and that our community is aware of the importance of alerting the University and the NHS if they display symptoms. We have reinforced the importance of following clear public health guidelines at all times, and that we all have a responsibility to each other to remain vigilant.”