Students in a coronavirus-ravaged university city claim to know of others still going out partying despite having symptoms.
Newcastle was full of partying young people this week, despite cases surging across the region.
But some Northumbria University students said they had been out and about initially missed their own virus symptoms – thinking they had a “hangover”.
One student in Newcastle said her flat had caught the virus and she felt it was “okay to spread among ourselves” as it didn’t affect them, according to The Sun.
The university confirmed on Friday that 770 of its students had tested positive for Covid-19, and 78 are symptomatic.
The virus can spread silently among younger people, who scientists believe are less likely to fall severely ill with the bug.
However fears it will spread from youngsters to elderly and vulnerable people has led to concerns universities reopening will drive repeated outbreaks.
Current local restrictions are meant to bar people living in Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Durham and Sunderland for socialising indoors with others from outside their own household.
However pictures over the weekend showed Newcastle’s pubs and bars busy with young people.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne had recorded 0.93% of its population displaying symptoms via the government-funded COVID Symptom Study app.
Images A student in the halls at Newcastle-upon-Tyne as Northumbria Uni weathers an outbreak
That means nearly one in every 100 people in the city using the app had symptoms over the past week.
Evie South, who lives in a shared flat at Northumbria University, claimed she knew of other students who were going out partying despite having coronavirus symptoms.
She told The Sun the nationwide 10pm curfew meant students were returning home and partying together indoors once the bars shut.
Everyone in England is also meant to be bound by the “rule of six”, which limits gathering sizes to smaller groups.
Libby Rothwell, a 19-year-old physiotherapy student said her flat had caught coronavirus, but had initially mistaken it for a hangover after drinking.
She told The Sun her household had caught Covid-19 a few weeks ago, and everyone had isolated: “None of us had any real symptoms. Some of us were thinking, is this the virus or are we just hungover?
“I just want to get on with everything because we know this doesn’t really affect us.
“It’s OK for us to spread it between ourselves.”
Other students claimed they lied when bar staff questioned whether they lived with the group of friends they were out partying with, according to the newspaper.
And Eve Drury, 21, from Gateshead, said many of the new rules “didn’t make sense,” adding that she and her friends were celebrating a friend’s birthday so did not want to miss it.
She believed bar staff were unlikely to challenge them, as local hospitality desperately needed the business.
But 20-year-old business student Miliana Nikolova said she believed most students were sticking to the rules and staying safe, but added many were feeling “fed up.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently accused the public of complacency after national efforts initially contained infection rates during the first wave of the virus.
As the UK beds in for the second wave and is seeing surging infection rates again, particularly across the North East, he urged people to follow the rules.
The PM had told the country: “What happened over the summer was a bit of sort of fraying of people’s discipline and attention to those rules.”
But families of thousands of students around the UK living under targeted lockdowns in their halls of residence and quarantining in their flats have in recent weeks criticised the government, after fresher’s week turned to chaos.
The return to universities has seen students ordered to isolate in hot-spots as Covid-19 ripped through their accommodation.
The outbreaks at halls across the country prompted scenes of students stuck isolating indoors posting messages reading ‘help’ and ‘send food’ in their windows.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has not ruled out asking students to spend Christmas on campus to reduce the risk of spreading the virus back to elderly people in their home communities.
That suggestion sparked anger from students and their families – with many complaining they should not have been encouraged by universities to return to campuses in the first place.
Northumbria University had said in a previous statement the surge in positive cases was linked to rigorous campus testing.
Its statement said: “We are making it clear to students that if they break the rules they will be subject to fines from police and disciplinary action by the Universities which may include fines, final warnings or expulsion.”