Tens of thousands of people have joined mutual aid groups, to co-ordinate assisting people currently in self-isolation. A support group for people in the Lancaster and Morecambe area can be found at this link.
On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. The situation is changing everyday in Lancaster, across the UK, and across the rest of the world. What until very recently was 'happening somewhere else' is now a rapidly-developing social and economic crisis.
Lancaster University's response
- No face-to-face teaching
- Sugarhouse closed until further notice
- Society and sports activities cancelled
- Four college bars closed
No member of the campus community has yet tested positive for coronavirus. However, the decision was made to end 'classroom teaching of all forms' from 16th March to 20th March, the last week before the Easter break. Bowland, Furness, Pendle and Lonsdale bars on campus have been closed.
LUSU have also taken the decision to close the Sugarhouse nightclub, and cancelled all society activities and sports training in the last week of term. The second part of the second part of the LUSU AGM, which began in October, has also been postponed.
Since January, senior management has convened incident management teams to manage the crisis. The first of these has been called 'Silver team', which has met several times a week to monitor and manage the situation. 'Gold team', chaired by the vice-chancellor, is also meeting on a weekly basis to discuss contingency arrangements.
The government currently expect the virus to peak in May/June this year. It is unclear, at present, what effect this will have on the next academic term, and major events such as Roses. Other UK universities have already cancelled lectures and exams next term.
The University has a public coronavirus information page here and one on the portal here. They are also operating an inbox for all coronavirus queries and concerns: email@example.com. The University has asked any students who are self-isolating after developing symptoms to contact the email address.
In the Coronavirus Action Plan published on 3rd March, the government detailed the four stages to its response:
- Contain: detect early cases, follow up close contacts, and prevent the disease taking hold in this country for as long as is reasonably possible
- Delay: slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season
- Research: better understand the virus and the actions that will lessen its effect on the UK population; innovate responses including diagnostics, drugs and vaccines; use the evidence to inform the development of the most effective models of care
- Mitigate: provide the best care possible for people who become ill, support hospitals to maintain essential services and ensure ongoing support for people ill in the community to minimise the overall impact of the disease on society, public services and on the economy.
There has been criticism of the government's approach, in particular the notion of acquiring 'herd immunity' to prevent a second wave in winter. There has also been criticism of what has been perceived as a communication failure from senior ministers and government health experts. The government has published a wide range of coronavirus guidance for different contexts.
Spineless will endeavour to keep readers updated, to the best of our ability, as the situation develops.