Dutch students fight to keep COVID-19 out of shared houses

It’s an unusual time to be a student. Many lectures are now online and places to socialise are closing one after the other.

While COVID-19 restrictions are being tightened all over the world, Dutch students are having a hard time keeping the virus out of their shared houses.

“It’s very complicated for students if there are 14 of you living in a house with shared kitchen, shared bathroom,” Dutch Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven told the Associated Press.

“What we see now is that students are working with one another to work out how to make those houses safe,” she said.

The Netherlands has banned spectators at professional sports matches and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 10 pm for the next three weeks.

It reported 2,989 new cases yesterday and infections have soared among people aged 20-30.

“I’m very glad that I found … a room in Leiden [in the western part of the country, next to La Haye] and that I can experience living with students and have parties here in the kitchen,” said law student Iris Raats. “But it’s not like real student life.”

Like her, many students living in shared houses have had to enforce new co-living rules to keep the COVID-19 from spreading within their homes.

Students with a cough or runny nose are supposed to self-isolate in their rooms and, when a room is vacated, housemates and potential new residents would now meet outside or online.

So far, about 100,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Netherlands and around 6,300 have died.

In the UK, surges at universities in cities including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester have led to thousands of students being confined to their residence halls.

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