Students at Manchester Metropolitan University have told of the moment they were met by security and police as they tried to leave their halls of residence.

Accommodation blocks at the Birley Campus, as well as Cambridge Hall have been locked down for a fortnight due to a cluster of Covid-19 cases.

Case numbers have soared to 127 across both sites, leading the council, university and Public Health England to take the drastic decision.

The handling of the situation has been heavily criticised by students, who claim they received no warning of the stringent measures.

Some have hit back at the decision by sticking posters to their windows, which they have reportedly been told to remove by the university.

One sign dubbed the halls as "HMP MMU" - referring to Her Majesty's Prison Service, whilst others read "f*** Boris" and "Tories out."

Many students say they have not had an opportunity to buy food shopping, and have been left with little or no support from the university.

Accommodation blocks at the Birley Campus, as well as Cambridge Hall have been locked down for a fortnight

Megan Tingey, 19, is a fresher at the Birley Naylor halls of residence, and already tested positive for coronavirus around three weeks ago.

She had been getting ready for a night to the pub with her flat mates to celebrate the end of their isolation period, when she says they were met by security on the front gates.

"We saw there was security on the gates telling people they couldn't go in or out," Megan told the PA news agency.

"We spoke to them and they said the email letting us know had been delayed.

"I still haven't received an email saying anything about being locked in. I think most of my flat mates have received an email but it didn't come before so we could prepare."

Megan said she and most of her flat had tested positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago, and had self-isolated for the 10 days from the start of their symptoms.

She criticised the timing of the lockdown, and claimed many people in her block had already had the virus.

"We haven't really received any advice about how to get food in, obviously we hadn't done a food shop," Megan said.

Some have hit back at the decision by sticking posters to their windows

"I presume we can order stuff to the gate and they can leave it there but I'm not sure. They gave us no time to prepare, if they had given us a day we could have gone out and stocked up.

"This definitely could have been handled better by the university. Walking out of the flat and seeing security is quite a stressful situation.

"There were police outside the gate looking at everyone. None of them came in to say anything."

Megan said she and her flat mates are in 'high spirits' but feared the impact of the new measures had not hit home yet.

"We have a big group chat on Facebook and I know a lot of people are struggling at the moment," she added.

The latest measures come as Manchester recorded the highest number of new infections in a single day - likely to be linked to the outbreak at MMU.

The city area had 176 new infections confirmed on Wednesday, September 23 - the highest since the start of the pandemic.

In the last seven days, the borough has recorded 1,051 new cases of coronavirus, an increase of 440 week-on-week.

A sign at Birley Halls reminding students to social distance

Local residents were sent a letter by Manchester City Council, informing them of the decision to lockdown the nearby university accomodation.

First-year student, Dominic Waddell, said there had been a 'big freak out' among students when met by security guards at the gated entrance at Birley Halls.

"A few people got an email to announce they were locking down my accommodation but not everyone got that," he told PA.

"There was a big freak out with everyone and there was a secruity guard that arrived at the gate and wouldn't let anyone leave.

"Lots of people were getting mixed messages. Some people had been told if they tried to leave they would be kicked off their course and lose their accomodation.

"Other people were saying that it was going to be a permanent lockdown - we didn't get anything from the university."

Dominic said he and his fellow students are feeling angry, confused, frustrated and worried about how they are going to source food.

"There are nearly 2,000 students in this lockdown and if everyone is trying to get a delivery slot I don't know how that is going to happen," he said.

One sign on a window at Birley Halls accommodation read: "Tory out"

"I think it has been pretty poorly handled. They are saying our safety and well-being is their top priority but it doesn't really seem like that if they haven't allowed us to prepare for this."

The University and College Union has described the incident as "the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predictable – and predicted – Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK."

General secretary Jo Grady said: "We warned last month of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country and the time has come for urgent action from ministers and universities to protect staff and students.

"Manchester Metropolitan University shifting teaching online only for foundation and first year students exposes the total absurdity of the current position of trying to continue with blended learning.”

On Friday David Regan, Public Health Director for Manchester, said: "An important part of Manchester’s local response and prevention plan for coronavirus is to keep a close eye on the data and act swiftly and decisively where an outbreak is identified in order to contain the virus. That’s what we’ve done here."

Manchester Council said a 'range of support measures' had been put in place for the students in question.

A spokesperson for MMU told the BBC: "We are fully supportive of the [lockdown] decision.

"Services such as wellbeing support and the library will remain available to our students online.

"Our security teams will increase patrols to support the lockdown and we will take disciplinary action against any students found to have breached requirements."

The M.E.N have contacted Manchester Metropolitan University for comment.