Manchester's two largest universities will teach students only online from tomorrow to try to stem the spiralling number of coronavirus cases.
The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University will detail the move to staff and pupils later today.
The decision was made alongside the city's public health department and Public Health England and will last until at least October 30.
It comes as nearly 4,000 students at more than 50 universities across the UK have tested positive for coronavirus - with Durham the latest to see a surge in cases.
Outbreaks have been sweeping campuses and forcing students to isolate despite the new term only starting weeks ago.
Other universities to report a spike in infections include:Newcastle's universities have about 850 students positive and they are all now self-isolating; Nearly 500 people were revealed to have tested positive for coronavirus at Sheffield University; More than 400 students and eight staff members have it at the University of Nottingham; Queen's University Belfast is 'closely monitoring' 166 students and staff who have the disease; And 177 University of Liverpool staff and students have tested positive as of last week.
Outbreaks have been sweeping campuses and forcing students to isolate despite the new term only starting weeks ago
The only courses at the two Manchester universities that will be taught in person are 'accredited and professional programmes, for on-campus laboratory, clinical and practice-based teaching'.
Director of Public Health at Manchester Council David Regan told the MeN: 'This is the right thing to do and supports our approach using data and a local approach to contain outbreaks so that we reduce the possibility of further infection.
'More online teaching will protect staff, students and the wider community, which is what we want and need.
'As people will no doubt know from the news our current Covid figures are high - and in particular the rate of infection in the last seven days for our 17-21 year-old category is almost six times higher than in the rest of the community.
'Today's announcement, plus following all our local restrictions means that we have a consistent approach.'
*Some universities have not disclosed figures
Durham University released its figures as part of its weekly update on the number of cases reported by students or staff through its own system.
A total of 69 students and one member of staff had the virus in the week leading up to October 4 at the prestigious institution.
It takes the overall total of cases since the start of term to 79, made up of three members of staff and 76 students.
A university spokesman said: 'Since the beginning of Term 1 we have had a small, but growing, number of positive cases which were handled in conjunction with Durham County Council Public Health colleagues.
'All affected staff and students are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance, and are receiving our full support.
'When we are notified by students or staff of a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19, or that someone is having to self-isolate because of close contact or being in the same household as someone else with a confirmed case of Covid-19, we follow detailed processes and procedures to ensure their health and wellbeing, and to reduce onward transmission.
'When a member of the university community tests positive, they self-isolate with their household in line with Government guidelines.
'We are in regular contact with Durham County Council, Public Health England and other partners to make sure that we are sharing information (not personal information) about the local situation and responding to the latest guidance.'
It comes as more than 850 students at Northumbria and Newcastle universities were told to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus.
On October 2, Northumbria University confirmed 770 of its students have contracted Covid-19, with 78 of those displaying symptoms.
All students who have tested positive were told to self-isolate along with their flatmates and anyone they have been in contact with, the university confirmed.
A further 94 confirmed Covid-19 cases were also recorded among students at Newcastle University, bringing the city total to 864.
University and College Union (UCU) said it warned Northumbria University that it was 'far too soon for a mass return to campus'.
More than 850 students at Northumbria (pictured) and Newcastle universities were told to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus
In a statement the UCU said: 'We told Northumbria University they had a civic duty to put the health of staff, students and the local community first and we take no pleasure in now seeing another preventable crisis play out.
'We warned last month that, given the current restrictions in the region, the direction of the infection rate and the problems with test and trace, it was clearly far too soon for a mass return to campus.'
Meanwhile nearly 500 people have tested positive for coronavirus at the University of Sheffield in a mass outbreak of the disease.
According to an online tracker on the university's website, 474 students and five staff members have tested positive for Covid-19 since September 28.
Sheffield University has around 8,000 staff members and usually hosts 29,000 students on its campus every academic year.
A spokesman said those affected by coronavirus were following Government guidelines and that support is available.
It is understood that no whole student accommodation blocks are in lockdown at the moment.
Nearly 500 people have tested positive for coronavirus at the University of Sheffield (pictured) in a mass outbreak of the disease
The spokesman said: 'We recognise how difficult it is for students who are new to Sheffield and need to self-isolate because of Covid-19 cases.
'To make sure we are supporting students in the best way possible, we will contact all students who are self-isolating to check on their welfare and offer practical and emotional support.'
The weekly coronavirus rate in Sheffield for the seven days to October 1 now stands at 233.1 new cases per 100,000 people.
There have been new fears over tighter restrictions in Sheffield after nearly 300 Covid-19 cases were recorded in a single day.
Last night the University of Nottingham revealed it had recorded 425 cases of the deadly disease, among staff and students.
A staggering 400 students and eight staff at the East Midlands institution are now self isolating.
A spokesman said the number would be 'higher than other universities' due to its unique asymptomatic testing regime.
Most of the students who had the virus lived in private accommodation but 106 were in university halls of residence and 93 were in purpose-built student flats.
Last night the University of Nottingham (pictured, students in the city at their freshers) revealed it had recorded 425 cases of the deadly disease, among staff and students
The spokesperson said: 'Alongside the national Pillar 2 testing regime for people with symptoms of Covid-19, the university is also running its own asymptomatic testing programme which identifies cases earlier and more quickly.
'While this means our case data will be higher than other universities, it means that we can identify cases that otherwise would remain undetected and thereby reduce asymptomatic transmission and the number of future cases.'
Institutions in Northern Ireland are also bearing the brunt of the crisis, with Queen's University Belfast 'closely monitoring' an increase in coronavirus cases.
It has been reported that 166 students and staff at the south Belfast university have tested positive for Covid-19.
Around 25,000 students started back last month for the new academic year.
In a statement the university said the safety and wellbeing of staff and students is its 'first priority', and a 'range of interventions' have been made across campus.
'The university is liaising with the Public Health Agency (PHA) on a daily basis to ensure the university is continuing to apply the correct measures to limit the spread of infection,' a spokesperson said.
'Although the number of staff and students affected remains a minority, the increase in number of positive cases is a concern and the university fully appreciates that this may cause anxiety for students, staff, and their families.
'Queen's is closely monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to apply additional measures to further protect members of our community as considered necessary in