About a hundred TU Delft students are infected with the coronavirus. Rector Tim van der Hagen fears a campus lockdown
The TU Delft campus is still quiet. (Photo: Delta)

About a hundred TU Delft students are infected with the coronavirus. Rector Tim van der Hagen fears a campus lockdown.

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The number of infections in the Municipality of Delft drastically increased last week. The GGD Haaglanden public health service reports that about 100 students in Delft have been tested positive for the virus. Compared to the rest of the country, this puts Delft in first place. The GGD says that many infections occur in student houses.

In other student cities, the RIVM (Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) sees clusters of infections arising from instemmingsavonden (selection evenings when residents of a student house meet potential new housemates). Whether this is the case in Delft is uncertain. Delft student houses arrange their instemmingsavonden partly or completely online, say students.

TU Delft student Jort (18) went through a selection session last Monday. “You first fill in a questionnaire and then do a digital round. The last round is physical,” he explains, “but unfortunately I didn’t get past the digital round so I don’t know if enough distance was kept in the physical round.” He has done about eight selection sessions since August. “There was only one where the distance may not have been enough.”

The dramatic increase in corona among students triggered TU Delft student associations to raise the alarm. They issued a joint letter to all students on Tuesday evening in which they stated that most infections occur in houses. ‘Think about spreading the virus among housemates or through meeting up with too many people without keeping distance.’ TU Delft, Mayor Marja van Bijsterveldt and the GGD Haaglanden also signed the letter.

The Municipality will enforce the rules more stringently

TU Delft student Joey (20) lives with 14 other housemates on the Professor Evertslaan in Delft. While housemates do not need to maintain the one-and-a-half metre rule, Joey and his housemates do take precautions. “Only three people do the shopping at one time and this week we started to wear masks for extra protection. And nobody may drop by the house.”

One of Joey’s housemates has a sore throat at the moment. “He was tested and is now quarantining himself in his room.” Joey himself does not need to isolate at home because his housemate does not have a fever or shortness of breath. But he and his housemates are keeping a close eye on their health.

Lockdown campus
Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen calls the rapid increase in the number of infections worrying. “We are trying to emphasise that it is also in the interest of TU Delft and the students to adhere to the rules. If not, we may have a local lockdown.” He thinks that the joint letter is a good initiative. “Luckily the student associations are acting responsibly.”

The Municipality says that a TU Delft lockdown, for which the letter warns, is still far off. A spokesperson said that “We stated this as a possibility because of its powerful message.” But the Municipality will enforce the rules more stringently, for example in the food and drink sector. “Luckily it is going well in many places, but, where necessary, we will be stricter with bar, café and restaurant owners. Where necessary we are also addressing shops on tightening their door policies.”