Rapid Covid-19 tests to begin in Oxford to get students safely home for Christmas

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Cary Johnston

Rapid Covid-19 tests are to be rolled out in Oxford to get university students safely home for Christmas.

Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford are offering students the free and fast tests to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus to friends, families and the community.

The tests will begin on Oxford Brookes campuses this weekend and at Oxford colleges by November 30. 

It is part of detailed end of term arrangements, put in place in consultation with local authorities, to ensure students can leave the city in a managed way in line with Government guidance. 

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The lateral flow tests will only be available to students who do not have Covid-19 symptoms, also known as asymptomatic testing.

All students will be advised to get tested twice, three days apart.

Once students have received two negative test results they are advised to return home.

Breaking the chain of transmission is key to controlling the virus. We're strongly encouraging students to take these tests to help stop the spread of the virus, protect family and friends and save lives.

Linda King, Professor of Virology & Pro Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University

If a student tests positive, they will need to take a PCR test via an NHS testing centre and self-isolate for 10 days before returning home.

Gary Mattingly, Major Incident and Business Continuity Manager at Oxford Brookes University, says it is "really important" to offer the testing to students to ensure they can return home for their mental health after a "disrupted year".

Lateral flow tests do not require a laboratory to process the test, therefore processing can take place at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel who can rapidly turn around results.

Although they give a result much more quickly, lateral flow tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests undertaken at NHS testing sites.

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By doing two tests, three days apart, the scheme is more likely to identify anyone with Covid-19 than from a single test.

The testing arrangements align with the Government's national guidance in which all students across the country are being asked to travel home during a 'Christmas travel window' between December 3-9.