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Fast free COVID tests for students heading home


Students at Brunel University London can leave campus for Christmas knowing they’re helping keep family and friends safe after taking free COVID-19 tests.

Brunel is among the first 100 UK universities to try the lateral-flow swab tests for students without symptoms.

Since eight out of 10 people who carry the virus don’t know they have it, mass asymptomatic testing could be crucial in cutting risk as tens of thousands of students ready to travel for the holidays.

The Government is nudging students to take voluntary tests, so they help cut the risk of spread when they travel during its student travel window, 3 to 9 December.

“We rapidly set up a quick and free on-campus testing service, to provide reassurance to our community ahead of the Christmas break, particularly for those intending to travel to other parts of the UK,” said Mike Keighley, College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences’ Director of College Operations and the Senior Responsible Officer for this project.

The Lateral Flow Test measures viral load – how much of the virus someone has in their system. Students without symptoms can book the nose and throat swab tests online from Monday 30 November through to Wednesday 2 December, with more slots added during the week. After registering on, students get the results by email or text in hours. Three days later, they take another test and only advised to travel home after two negative results.

Students who test positive are asked to tell Brunel by reporting it on eVision and self-isolate on campus for 10 days. 24-hour support is available for those students along with guidance about how to self-isolate safely and help with cooking and laundry.

Students with COVID-19 symptoms are told to call NHS 111 and book a test through that.

Brunel has 3,000 of the Government supplied tests – enough for 1,500 people to take two.

Since Boris Johnson announced on 9 November moves to send 600,000 quick tests to universities across the UK, the university put together a team of Department of Health & Social Care- trained volunteers to guide people through the testing process. Staff will also be able to book tests, but students have priority.

The bill will mostly be footed by Brunel but Government will pay back some of the administration costs. “We feel this is the right thing to do and the right way to support our community at this time,” said Mr Keighley. “The safety and wellbeing of our whole Brunel community is our number-one priority.”

For more information on mass asymptomatic testing at Brunel, click here.