THE First Minister and national clinical director have made a direct plea to Scotland’s students after a number of outbreaks at universities in recent weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon announced this afternoon that there were 224 coronavirus cases recorded in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area yesterday – saying this increase is linked to a “significant outbreak” at the University of Glasgow.

Last night it also emerged there are 500 students currently being told to self-isolate at the Parker House accommodation in Dundee amid a suspected outbreak there.

There have been other outbreaks linked to halls, including at Edinburgh Napier and St Andrews University.

As Scotland recorded its highest ever daily count of coronavirus cases – 486 – the First Minister urged Scotland’s students to follow the rules.

“This is in no way shape or form the fault of students, and I want to be very clear about that, but we do know that student life, the characteristics of student life present risks of transmitting the virus.

“So we need to do everything we can to mitigate against those risks while allowing as far as possible students to have the experience of college and university that they value so highly.

“We have tough guidance in place and we are discussing with the sector today if there are further steps to take.

“I want to be clear if we need to strengthen our guidance we will. We strengthened the guidance for schools after schools had been back for a few days in light of the experience and we will not hesitate to do that with the further and higher education guidance too.

“But today I want to appeal directly to students for your help in this. I know that the vast majority of you will already be doing the right thing. And I want to recognise how tough that is and I want to thank you for it.

“But it’s also important to underline a key point for students living in halls or in shared accommodation and who might be watching today’s briefing.

“If you are asked to self-isolate – and I know many of you right now are already in that position – it is really, really important that you follow that advice.

“As we’ve seen in the past few days Covid can spread very quickly in shared living settings and halls of residence. So please follow the rules on self-isolation, take all the advice that is given, make sure you do it in the way that is asked.

“Also, please observe all of the FACTS rules at all times while you’re going about your daily lives. And please abide by the new restrictions on household gatherings we announced yesterday.”

The national clinical director Jason Leitch also appealed to students during the coronavirus briefing.

He said students must do these four things. Firstly, book a test immediately and self-isolate if you experience symptoms.

Secondly, he asked students to download the Protect Scotland app.

Next, he said it is crucial to follow the Test and Protect advice and the advice from your institution.

He stressed that self-isolation means students must remain in their accommodation and not go out for any reason. The college or university can help with accessing essential supplies during this time.

He said students must avoid all close contact with those they live with while self-isolating. They should also be cleaning shared areas every time they are used, keeping the number of people in shared areas to a minimum, and not sharing items like towels.

Finally, Leitch said: “We need you to not have house parties. I could not be any clearer.”