A LEADING professor has warned of a potential "three way traffic system" of coronavirus as university students prepare to travel between Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Dr Mahendra Patel, an honorary visiting professor at the University of Bradford and member on both local and national pharmacy boards, said most students will not necessarily be local to their universities and could increase the risk of infection in multi-generational households, who are often BAME and among the most vulnerable.

The professor has called for a "heightened awareness" that young people could be acting as "vehicles" for coronavirus on their return to education.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Dr Patel said: "There should not be a blame culture but I think the younger people can play a huge role. The one thing is to not blame the younger community but they can, if they are not careful, become the vehicles for spreading the virus. Universities can play a big part in providing that message. It's working with them and the areas they associate with.

"They (students) can be the champions in that area to help to promote that message.

"We've got Huddersfield, we've got Bradford, we've got Leeds, we've got a college at Bradford. We're almost one community, one big area. Bradford students could be living in Huddersfield. There's a three way traffic here.

"It's not just [like] people are localised to that university, that city. They're going into Huddersfield and Leeds into Bradford because of where they live.

"Because of Bradford and the 'league tables' - and the high deprivation area, there's a likelihood we could spread it to people who are more at risk.

"Universities play a big part. It's not about condemning people. Universities can play a leading role here. All these things need investment and support from the Government downwards.

"Younger people now become a vehicle driving that coronavirus without them even knowing they're carrying it. Because they're not as badly affected they may think, 'I'm ok' but they are in contact with one, two, three generations as well, particularly in the higher risk BAME groups.

"University is a lease of life for people especially after lockdown. For people starting university, freshers, it's always a good lease of life and it's part of life that's exciting. But that further is amplified by people being locked down for the past six months."

At a meeting of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday, Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster told members that West Yorkshire was one of the few forces in the UK that had issued fines for unlicensed music events in recent weeks.

Chair of the panel, Leeds Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, pointed out that the issue of illegal gatherings could become a bigger one in the coming weeks as students return to West Yorkshire’s many Universities.

He said: “Students are known to have house parties, and that means more responsibilities for the police.

“We all know that the R rate is sadly on the increase.”

The University of Bradford said it has changed a number of aspects of campus operations, teaching and research delivery to make it covid-19 secure.

It will be offering a blended approach to teaching and learning for new and returning students with "flexible, educational and working practices", a spokesperson said.

They added: "We have implemented a range of measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and students on campus. These include risk assessments for all University operations, social distancing across campus with clear signage and guidance on how to adhere to requirements, and widely available sanitisation stations.

"We have implemented an enhanced cleaning regime in all our buildings and staff, students and visitors are expected to wear face coverings in indoor communal public spaces.

"Our teaching arrangements are designed to manage the number of people who will be on campus at any one time and we are working closely with the local authority and public health agencies to develop and implement an effective approach to testing and tracing at the University. As we proceed with testing our operational readiness for the start of the semester, we will continue to work with our stakeholders, including University trade unions and the local authority and public health agencies on our plans."