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September 28, 2021

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid surges feared as new academic year begins

By Paul Dennis

28 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 232,428,000, with more than 4,758,000 deaths reported.

In the United Kingdom, Covid-19 infections have been rising for the last three months.

In June, the daily number of new cases was approximately 4,400, but since then the number of new infections has been trending upwards (with an average of over 35,000 cases reported daily in September).

As the new academic year begins and students return to schools and universities, there is concern that cases will continue to increase.

Primary and secondary education has now resumed with minimal mitigation measures in place.

All Universities in the UK have adopted a hybrid policy which ensures that students have a balance between online learning and in-person teaching – large events that allow students to socialize have also been allowed to resume.

The UK government has not issued any rules regarding the Covid-19 mitigation within the university settings.

Therefore, there are concerns that if these institutions do not enforce their own mitigation measures, there may be a surge of Covid-19 infections among the student population.

Currently, around 67% of UK citizens are now fully vaccinated; this suggests that there will likely be a level of herd immunity within the population.

However, the unvaccinated population is still problematic, and it is important that unvaccinated university students are encouraged to get vaccinated, and have regular tests, to avoid spikes of Covid-19 cases within these cohorts.

After long closures of schools and universities, cases of Covid-19 are now decreasing in Kenya.

During the month of August, Kenya was reporting 1,100 cases of Covid-19 per day, which was reduced to 600 daily cases in September.

Although schools are set to stay closed until a higher percentage of the population are vaccinated, the Prime Minister announced that Universities and other tertiary institutions will be opening in November.

As less than 2% of the Kenyan population have been fully vaccinated, the government has set strict rules for universities to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Students will be required to adhere to social distancing, wear face-coverings, and Covid-19 surveillance mechanisms will be constantly monitored.

Although, these measures should be effective in preventing an infection surge among university students, there is concern that cases may rise again due to the low vaccination rate in students, which could ultimately lead to re-closure of universities and further delay the opening of Kenyan schools.

Anna Moody, MRES, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

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