Campus under shadow of illness

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The Independent Online
The shadow cast in yesterday's winter sunshine by the 10- storey tower block dominating Cyncoed, Cardiff, seemed longer than usual. For 770 students who live in University Hall, which has the tower block at its heart, the meningitis outbreak dominated life, writes Tony Heath.

Students - there are 13,000 in Cardiff - continued to attend lectures throughout the city. They presented a mixed response to the predicament. Christopher Leech, a medical student, seemed relaxed. "Naturally, everyone is ...extremely worried but the authorities appear to be acting very efficiently," he said as went to consult his GP.

John, a Gibraltarian who declined to give his surname, and who is studying accountancy, said: "Of course there was a bit of panic to start with. But I feel confident now."

The outbreak has also trap- ped visitors to the hall. Alka Shah arrived on Friday from Keele University, where she is reading management studies. "There's a lot of real stress - after all, two students have died."

Students at a campus about half a mile away said they were baffled, because although they shared facilities with students at University Hall, they appeared to have received little attention.

Rhodri Morgan, MP for Car-diff West and Labour'shealth spokesman for Wales, said on BBC Radio Wales: "There was a case five weeks ago which was said to be completely unrelated to the recent ones. Can that be true? It occurred in the same hall of residence."

He asked whether university authorities had made sufficient attempts to persuade students to stay put over the weekend. About 150 are understood to have left for the weekend on Friday night. By early afternoon yesterday most had reported back and had been vaccinated.