Urgent Covid Omicron update
Principal Professor Sally Mapstone has tonight (Friday 10 December) informed all staff and students of the cancellation of imminent large events at the University.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
I have tonight taken the very difficult decision that the University should cancel all our imminent large events in light of the rapidly worsening situation with the Covid Omicron variant.
That will mean that the University Carol Service due to take place at Holy Trinity Church tomorrow (Saturday 11 December) will not go ahead, and that all performances of the panto at the Byre Theatre will be cancelled from tomorrow until further notice. Full refunds for the panto will be paid to anyone who has booked tickets. The London Alumni Club Carol Service scheduled for Wednesday next week is also being cancelled.
The update from the First Minister today has warned us that we are facing a “tsunami” of Covid cases, and that the new variant will “run riot” through the Scottish population if we do not all take preventative action.
In that update, we learned that the “attack rate” of Omicron is 50%. That is to say, in a room of 100 people, if one person has the virus, we can expect 50 people to become infected.
As a result, the Scottish Government has today introduced tough new rules on isolation. All household contacts of people with any positive Covid test will now have to isolate for ten days, regardless of vaccination status, and even if they return a negative PCR test.
That development alone has serious implications for students in St Andrews. If you or your flatmates get Covid in the next few days, it is likely to mean that none of you are able to travel home when our semester ends. Please think about that very carefully.
In these circumstances, it would be irresponsible of the University not to act to postpone large gatherings and events which might allow the virus to spread more easily.
I am heart sore to have to take this action, especially at this time of the season, and when all of you have already endured such a challenging year.
We have learned, however, that with Covid, it is always better to act early, and usually a mistake to leave tough decisions until later.
I must stress that the normal business of our University will continue. Exams will proceed as planned, and small-scale meetings and events can continue to take place under current guidance.
The work from home guidance issued this week still holds. Staff should continue to stay away from the University if they can, but workplaces will remain open for those who cannot work from home.
My senior team and I will meet over the weekend to review what further measures may be necessary in the days ahead, and I will update you all next week.
Sally Mapstone FRSE
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Principal's email to all staff and students, Friday 10 December 2021.