No corona infections among OWee participants

Among the 3,000 participants of the OWee no corona infections are known so far. This is reported by the National Consultation and Contact for Introduction Weeks.

Rowing club Proteus-Eretes organised a silent disco for 750 first-year students during the OWee. (Photo: Daniël Korvemaker)

So far, it appears that the number of COVID-19 infections resulting from the introduction weeks is very small. Even though thousands of students took part, no hotspots arose.
The Rotterdam Eurekaweek, for instance, resulted in 38 COVID-19 infections. “That’s not much when you think of the thousands of partying students during the introduction week”, confirms Els Veltkamp, spokesperson for GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond. A total of 4,000 students attended the Eurekaweek.

The EL CID in Leiden has even better figures: among the 4,000 participants only 20 tested positive. More than 7,000 tests were done during the EL CID. Most of the introduction weeks worked with ‘Testing for Access’. This means that a negative coronavirus test is needed in order to take part in activities.

One and a half metres
In Groningen 5,500 students took part in the KEI week. Of the ‘thousands of tests’ that were done just three were positive. The number of infections in Utrecht was low too: four people out of the 2,000 participants in the UIT 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 yet been established.

According to Feline Steup, vice-president and head of communications OWee Board 2021, this is due to a combination of factors. “In the run-up to, and during the OWee, there has been a lot of contact with the local GGD, the municipality of Delft and the internal security department of TU Delft. In consultation, it was decided not to house participants in student houses this year, but to arrange a place for the incoming freshmen to stay overnight. Seven hundred cardboard tents on a large rugby field provided a place for as many participants to sleep.”

Splitting the OWee into shifts of two times three days also proved to be a good move. Steup: “This way, we could spread all the participants adequately across the city and the campus, thus guaranteeing the one and a half metres. Thanks to the testing for access policy and the test facility on campus, it was also possible for participants to party safely in the evenings.”

Feedback from participants on the corona policy was not yet received by Steup. “But we did ask for this in a survey. We will analyse the results soon.”

Provisional result
Not all the introduction weeks have yet taken place; for example, the Intreeweek of the University of Amsterdam begins this week. In addition, some of the introduction weeks took place too recently to be able to say anything about the number of infections. It generally takes five or six days for coronavirus symptoms to come to light.

The small number of infections during the introduction weeks gives the universities confidence for the coming academic year. That emerged yesterday at a press conference of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). In this academic year students can once again attend on-campus classes without any need for social distancing.

HOP, Josefine van Enk / Delta, Marjolein van der Veldt
Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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