Essex University has confirmed a “small number” of staff and students have tested positive for coronavirus.

In a statement released on Friday evening, the university said the cases were linked to the elite sports programme and associated junior programme.

It said the students do not live on the Wivenhoe campus and were now self-isolating.

The majority are showing no symptoms.

The university did not confirm how many people had tested positive.

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Registrar Bryn Morris said: “A small number of positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed amongst staff and students which are linked to the university’s elite sports programme and associated junior programme.

“These individuals do not live on the Colchester campus and are now self-isolating and the university is offering them advice and support. The majority are showing no symptoms and are feeling well.

“We would like to reassure our community that we have taken all necessary steps to contain this cluster of cases working through our established processes; this includes advising direct contacts to self-isolate in line with NHS guidelines.

“The university is now working with the Essex Contact Tracing Team, alongside colleagues from Essex County Council and Public Health England, to ensure all contacts of cases are identified and given appropriate advice. They are also ensuring optimal infection control measures are in place.

“As part of the university’s commitment to managing Covid-19 on its campuses, we have launched a voluntary rapid antibody test screening programme at all our campuses.

“PCR swab testing is also available when a clinical need is identified.

“All students and staff are being offered tests to keep any potential spread of the infection under control and to understand the pattern of cases on our campuses.

“The university also has extensive measures in place including enhanced cleaning regimes, increased hand washing and sanitising facilities, free face coverings and extensive signage to promote social distancing.

“Food packs for students who need to quarantine or self-isolate on our campus are also being provided.”

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Public Health England have also released a statement.

Dr Ravikumar Balakrishnan, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health England, East of England said: "Public Health England is working with the University of Essex and Essex County Council on a small contained outbreak at the university.

“Public Health England is confident that the university is managing the situation in partnership with agencies and is supporting students who are currently self-isolating..

"Public Health England would like to remind students at the University to download the NHS Covid-19 App which will help to protect you, your friends, families and community.”