Seventy-two students are self-isolating in the city after an outbreak at a university campus.
The Aberdeen University students have been told to stay at home after a “number of students” tested positive for Covid-19, some of whom stayed in an accommodation building in Hillhead Student Village.
There have also been outbreaks in recent days at student accommodation in Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.
Aberdeen University’s principal and vice-chancellor, Professor George Boyne, confirmed in an internal email that a number of students at the university had tested positive for Covid-19, including those staying in Wavell House at Hillhead Student Village.
Police were forced to break up two parties attended by hundreds of students at halls of residence on Saturday, just days before the new cases were confirmed, with two gatherings being shut down less than 24 hours apart at New Carnegie Court.
When the parties were taking place, the maximum number of people who could meet indoors under Scottish Government rules was limited to six from two different households, with two-metre social distancing restrictions also in place.
All residents and close contacts of individuals with confirmed cases have now been asked to self-isolate for 14 days with immediate effect unless advised otherwise.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen University spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a number of students have tested positive for Covid-19. We are working closely with NHS Grampian’s Health Protection Team and will be offering help and support to those required to self-isolate as a result.
“Those who have been identified as close contacts of the confirmed cases will have been contacted by Test and Protect last night or today and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
“Due to the anticipated large number of students at our Wavell House halls of residence, that potentially have had close contact with all the cases, and the rapidly changing nature of this situation, the Health Protection Team has advised that all residents in Wavell House are required to self-isolate with immediate effect for 14 days unless advised otherwise.”
The spokeswoman added: “All those affected are being supported by the accommodation team to ensure they have access to food and other supplies. Affected areas of Wavell House are also being given a deep clean. Assistance will be provided to affected students to support the need for them to study online while self-isolating.
“We appreciate this will be an anxious time for many but the safety of our staff, student and wider community are paramount. At the same time, it is vital that we all work together to comply with the guidelines to help keep our community safe and mitigate the risk of further spread.”
Scotland sets new record number of Covid-19 cases confirmed in 24 hours
The latest update from the Scottish Government shows the new cases represent 7.8% of newly-tested individuals.
There are 19 new cases in Grampian bringing the region’s cumulative total since the pandemic began to 2,140.
Speaking during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the first minister acknowledged student life can lend itself to the spread of the virus but appealed directly to students to follow the rules.
“If you are asked to self-isolate, and I know many of you are already in that position, it is really important that you follow that advice,” she said.
“From me, for now, please know that we appreciate the sacrifices you’re making at this really important stage of your lives.
“It’s not yesterday that I was at university, but I still remember what an important stage of life it is and nobody wants you to be living under these restrictions, but it is important that you take care not put yourselves at risk and obviously not to inadvertently put other people at risk.
“What we’re asking you to do now is for the collective good of everyone but we do appreciate your sacrifices and thank you for it.”
Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart urged young people to be aware that they are not immune from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and said he had been in touch with both universities in Aberdeen.
He said: “An immense amount of work has gone into preparing for the return of students from both universities and the college, but the reality is it was always going to very challenging.
“I’ve been in communication with both universities and I’m encouraged by the actions taken in response to these events.
“This virus is unscrupulous and young people have to be aware that the long term health impact can be severe and life changing for them, indeed there are examples of otherwise healthy young folk in the city who have been debilitated by coronavirus for many months.”
North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “Coronavirus transmission rates are on the rise in the Central Belt and elsewhere, while the new restrictions introduced this week affect us all.
“If Covid-19 is going to be around for quite some time, actions to reduce transmission rates should surely be taken on a targeted basis.
“Where restrictions are introduced across the whole country, there needs to be more transparency about the decisions taken by Government Ministers at both Holyrood and Westminster.”
University staff asked to continue working for home
Meanwhile in an email to staff, Professor Steve Olivier, principal and vice chancellor at Robert Gordon University advised staff to continue to work from home unless deemed ‘business essential’.
He said: “Where we can function effectively by remote means, we will continue to do so.
“To be clear, unless you are asked to be on campus for scheduled activities that are deemed to be important for business continuity, you should work from home.
“However, if you personally feel there is a business essential need, or that your work can be done more effectively and efficiently on campus, please discuss that with your manager.
“It is important that we appropriately manage numbers on campus and we will continue to stress the importance of following Scottish Government and university guidance.
“The continuing safety and general wellbeing of our community remains a top priority, and we will do all we can to ensure that our campus is as safe an environment for staff and students as possible.”