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Covid-19 asymptomatic testing starts at Northumbria University

2nd December 2020

Northumbria is offering asymptomatic testing for all students, enabling them to return home as safely as possible for the Christmas break, should they wish. 

An asymptomatic testing site (ATS) of lateral flow tests has launched at Northumbria University, Newcastle, as part of a mass testing programme to reduce the risk of students spreading the virus when they travel home for the Christmas break.

The University has worked with NHS Test and Trace to set up an on-campus ATS so that students without symptoms, who may be infectious but unaware, are able to get tested and asked to self-isolate if they are, or reassured quickly if they are not. 

The asymptomatic testing site, supported by trained on-site staff, has been set up in the University’s Sport Central. It is operating from Wednesday 2 December until Wednesday 9 December every day between 8am and 10pm, with thousands of Northumbria students having already pre-booked their slot.

Professor George Marston, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), said: “Immense teamwork with our partners and the NHS has enabled a large-scale testing facility to be set up in Sport Central, allowing students to get tested before they head home for the winter break. This has provided students with as much assurance as possible that when they return to their friends and families, they will know they have done everything they can to make it as safe as possible for them.”

“We also know that many students will stay in Newcastle over the Christmas break, so colleagues are also working hard with Newcastle University and our Students’ Union to make sure activities, facilities and support are available to them during this time.”


Lateral flow tests

The facility is part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase the availability of mass testing. From the start of the pandemic, the Government has been working around the clock with a range of partners to fight coronavirus. The testing site at Northumbria is being delivered in partnership with NHS Test and Trace and will offer self-swab tests.    

Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. Processing of these tests can be conducted at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel and can rapidly turn around results within an hour.

All students have been urged to get tested to help protect themselves and their friends, families and home communities as safe as possible when returning home this Christmas. 

If they receive a negative test, they are advised to return home immediately. Should a student test positive they will receive a confirmatory PCR and have to self-isolate for 10 days, still with enough time to return home for Christmas.  

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “We are committed to get students back to their loved ones for the Christmas holidays as safely as possible, after this challenging year.

“Our plans already minimise the risk of students moving at the end of term, through staggered departure dates in the ‘student travel window’. But testing will offer further assurances that students can keep their families safe this winter, and I urge all students who can to take the tests on offer.”


Safe travels

Before travelling home, students have been advised to: book travel in advance, avoid busy times and routes and check their journey in advance to avoid disruptions. If driving only travel with members of their household or support bubble, and follow the ‘safer travel advice’ safety guidelines.

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