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Tutor infected with corona – students permitted to go ahead with intro programme

Corona — Six additional students on the rhetoric programme at the University of Copenhagen are in self-quarantine. Faculty director 'certain' that more corona cases will be forthcoming, but ready to handle them.

UPDATE: On 26 August The Faculty of Humanities reported that the student was NOT infected with Covid-19 as had previously been reported. The false positive test was due to an IT error. 

Two tutors from the rhetoric programme met with five new students on Monday morning. They were to have breakfast at one of their homes and later meet up with the rest of the year cohort at the Faculty of Humanities on South Campus.

Instead, all seven students have now gone into self-quarantine. During breakfast, one of the tutors got a text message that they had tested positive for Covid-19. The tutor had previously been informed that the test was negative, just like all the other tutors on the rhetoric programme. But there had been a mistake.

In this way, the coronavirus has also hit the intro courses at the University of Copenhagen, just like at the other big Danish university Aarhus, where six tutors on the political science programme tested positive for the coronavirus.

The infection will have no consequences, however, for planned events in connection with the start of the semester, according to Kristian Boye Petersen, who is director at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Humanities. As to the decision to ask seven students to go into self-quarantine, he says:

»We explained to the Danish Patient Safety Authority how the interaction between students and tutors has been, and on this basis they concluded that these measures were the right ones.«

READ ALSO: University of Copenhagen warns dentistry students after anonymous corona threat

Faculty director comfortable

58 new students have been admitted to the rhetoric programme this year. But it is still only five of the new students who will be isolated because of the risk of infection. Faculty director Kristian Boye Petersen says however that he is not worried about whether the tutor who tested positive for Covid-19 may have infected other students:

Are you comfortable with the fact that you only quarantined seven students on the whole intro course?

»Absolutely. As we presented the case to the Danish Patient Safety Authority, the students have acted just like they should have. They have kept their distance and sanitised everything and so on. The probability that more people have been infected in this situation is negligible.«

The tutors have met up in the week leading up to the start of studies programme. Can you rule out the possibility that they have not infected each other?

»Of course I can’t. But I feel completely comfortable with the way both the tutors and the new students interact with each other out here. I only see them keeping a safe distance and being careful to sanitise everything. That’s why I’m confident that everybody – both new students and tutors – do everything they can to avoid infection,« he says.

Faculty director Kristian Boye Petersen says that he expects that this will not to be the last case of corona infection at the University of Copenhagen.

You will be welcoming almost 2,000 new students this week. Will this outbreak have consequences for the rest of the introductory courses at your faculty?

»We are constantly on the lookout, so I’m not worried about it. But I’m sure that we’ll see more cases, and then we’re ready to react.«

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