Students gather at Janskerkhof during the 2021 UIT. Photo: DUB

No major coronavirus outbreaks because of introduction weeks

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So far, it looks like that the number of Covid-19 infections resulting from universities' introduction weeks is very small. Even though thousands of students took part in these events, no infection hotspots arose, according to the National Consultation and Contact for Introduction Weeks (Loci in the Dutch acronym). In Utrecht, four UIT participants were infected. 

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The Rotterdam Eurekaweek, for instance, resulted in 38 Covid-19 infections. “That’s not much when you think of the thousands of students who went to parties during the introduction week”, comments Els Veltkamp, spokesperson for the municipal health services of the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region. A total of 4,000 students attended Eurekaweek.

Leiden's introduction week, the EL CID, has even better figures: among the 4,000 participants, only 20 tested positive. Over 7,000 tests were taken during that introduction week.

The good results may be attributed to the fact that most introduction weeks worked with a "test before access" system, requiring a negative Covid-19 test result to allow students in.

In Groningen, 5,500 students took part in the KEI week. Of the ‘thousands of tests’ that were done that week, just three were positive.

The number of infections in Utrecht was low too: four people out of the 2,000 UIT participants tested positive. In Delft, as in Utrecht, social distancing was observed during the introduction week. Among the 3,000 participants in the OWEE week in Delft no infections have been detected as of yet.

“We can be proud of what we have achieved”, stated Loci chairman Youp Theunisz.

Provisional result
Not all the introduction weeks have taken place yet. The Intreeweek, organised by the University of Amsterdam, for example, begins this week. Besides, it's still much too early to say anything about the number of infections caused by some introduction weeks: it generally takes five or six days for coronavirus symptoms to come to light. 

Universities hopeful
Even so, the small number of infections detected so far gives Dutch universities the confidence they needed for the upcoming academic year, according to a spokesperson of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) in a press conference. This academic year, students can once again attend classes on campus without (almost) any need for social distancing. 

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