A LOCAL outbreak plan has been set up by Bournemouth University in the event of a spike of coronavirus cases.

It comes as the university welcomes new and returning students to Bournemouth.

A statement on BU’s website confirmed it has been working with local councils, health agencies and Public Health England to create the local outbreak management plan.

In the event of an outbreak, the plan says BU will liaise with PHE on what action to take.

The plan says: “Possible actions required in the event of a large scale or significant outbreak include locally managed actions for small or low impact outbreaks right through to extensive communications and community engagement, accelerated local testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, enhanced inspections, closure of facilities, event cancellations, increased working from home, travel or movement restrictions, shielding.

The campuses at the university are currently open with distancing measures in place and the university said it is committed to “a safe on-campus experience with as much on-campus activity as we are able to provide” for the Autumn term, which started this week.

However, it also confirmed the majority of education activities will take place online.

Mandi Barron, director of student services, said: “It has been great to give our students a warm welcome back to BU over the last couple of weeks, as our new academic year begins. As they have come back, we’ve been reminding them of the personal responsibilities they have to keep to the guidelines, and sharing with them all the safety measures we have in place to keep them, and the community safe.

“We’re grateful to have been working with a range of local organisations, including BCP Council and Public Health Dorset, to do all we can in support of staff, student and community safety, and that work continues.”

And the government’s universities minster, Michelle Donelan, moved to reassure students that efforts are being made to make campuses safe.

Ms Donelan said: “This is a challenging time for us all, and I recognise that some residents in university towns and cities such as Bournemouth may feel nervous ahead of the start of the academic term.

“But I want to reassure the people of Bournemouth that every effort is being made by the government and universities to ensure that students return to campus as safely and sensibly as possible.

“We have already seen a mammoth effort from universities with a host of protective measures being put in place, such as limiting travel into campus, staggering class times over extended days, and reinforcing hand hygiene, to keep students and local residents as safe as we can during this time.

“But I have been clear that health advice only works if we all follow it and I am urging students, just like the wider public, to do their bit.”