THE number of positive coronavirus cases at the University of Chester has now reached "double figures" – with half of those affected living at home as permanent residents.

The institution claims some of its cases are a reflection of the rising infection rate within the community rather than being associated with "university-related transmission".

With a number of universities across the UK experiencing serious Covid-19 outbreaks, The Standard asked for an update on the current situation at the University of Chester.

In a statement, the university's Pro Vice-Chancellor Debora Green confirmed the number of positive results has "now entered double figures" – although an exact number was not disclosed.

She said the amount of cases is "significantly less" than many other institutions and the infection rate is "proportionately lower than what is happening in the community".

Here is the full statement from Debora Green, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience:

"The safety of our students, staff and the wider community has been at the centre of all the precautions we have taken to help avoid the spread of Covid-19.

"From the outset, we have followed national guidance relating to Covid-19 assiduously, implementing rigorous procedures and risk assessments to meet this, together with additional safeguards.

"We have worked in close partnership with local public health experts, who have described our approach as 'above and beyond'.

"Although the number of positive results has now entered double figures, half of these cases live at home as permanent residents, rather than at a term-time address.

"Therefore, some of our cases are reflective of the increase in rates of community transmission rather than being associated with University-related transmission.

"The total figure is also still significantly less than that of many other institutions and the rate is proportionately lower than what is happening in the community.

"Well before the start of the academic year, students and staff were briefed on the University's operational plans and expectations, which were informed by both local public health specialists and national guidance.

"We continue to work closely and proactively with colleagues at Cheshire West and Chester Council on preventative measures.

"We are cautiously hopeful at this stage that the fact that we have taken this virus so seriously appears to be having a positive impact on our numbers, but are constantly adapting our procedures to keep pace with the local and UK picture.

"For example, our University-owned halls of residence are tightly managed and of a smaller scale than most of the premises which are featuring in the national media.

"We have created a ‘bubble’ system, so if anyone reports symptoms or a positive test result, sections of buildings housing small groups of students can quickly move into self-isolation and we can provide a support package for residents as they stay in their rooms.

"Another important part of our strategy, developed over the summer months, was to introduce our own COVID Response Team, with internal reporting and contact tracing for students and staff.

"This works in conjunction with the national NHS Test and Trace system and the promotion of the new app, enabling potential or confirmed cases to be identified very quickly and appropriate advice given."

She added:

"On behalf of the University, I would like to send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to MP Chris Matheson, who has announced he has tested positive for the virus."