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Contacts and behaviours of university students during the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of the 2020/21 academic year

By Emily J Nixon, Adam Trickey, Hannah Christensen, Adam Finn, Amy C Thomas, Caroline L Relton, Clara Montgomery, Gib Hemani, Jane Metz, Josephine G Walker, Katy Turner, Rachel Kwiatkowska, Sarah Sauchelli, Leon Danon, Ellen Brooks-Pollock

Posted 11 Dec 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.09.20246421

CONQUEST (COroNavirus QUESTionnaire) is an online survey of contacts, behaviour, and COVID-19 symptoms for University of Bristol (UoB) staff/students. We analysed survey results from the start of the 2020/2021 academic year, prior to the second national lockdown (14/09/2020-01/11/2020), where COVID-19 outbreaks led to lockdown of some student halls of residence. The aim of these analyses was to enhance knowledge of student contact patterns to inform infection disease mathematical modelling approaches. Responses captured information on demographics, contacts on the previous day, symptoms and self-isolation during the prior week, and COVID-19 status. 740 students provided 1261 unique records. Of 42 (3%) students testing positive in the prior fortnight, 99% had been self-isolating. The median number of contacts on the previous day was 2 (interquartile range: 1-5), mode: 1, mean: 6.1; 8% had [≥]20 contacts. 57% of student contacts were other UoB students/staff. Most students reported few daily contacts but there was heterogeneity, and some reported many. Around 40% of student contacts were with individuals not affiliated with UoB, indicating potential for transmission to non-students/staff.

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