Mass coronavirus testing begins at South West universities so students can travel home

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Mass coronavirus testing has started at universities in the South West as students prepare to return home for Christmas.

Testing started at Exeter University in Devon and the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol on 30 November.

If students return a negative result, they are encouraged to return home to their families for Christmas - if they test positive, they are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Tests are being carried out in UWE's sports centre.

Testing is voluntary, though some have criticised the accuracy of the results.

“We don’t want to transmit this Covid to our family and friends,” Exeter University student Muhammed Ravat told ITV News West Country.

Staff at Exeter University are aiming to test around 1,000 students per day, while more than 90 members of staff and students have been recruited to carry out testing at UWE.

Professor Steve West, who is the Vice-Chancellor UWE, said mass testing was “inconvenient” for staff and students but “the right thing to do”.

“I think it is a difficult situation,” he said.

“I think what we’re trying to do as a university is recognise that we have a role to play to limit the spread across the country - and this is one way that we can do it.”

Exeter University student Muhammed Ravat takes a test.

The mass testing is intended to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus as students travel away from their term-time addresses.

Sports halls and rooms on campus are being converted into testing centres, where students will take ‘lateral flow’ swab tests - which provide results within an hour.

Two tests are recommended to increase accuracy - and students will be expected to travel soon after a second negative result, with students in England and Wales encouraged to leave within 24 hours.

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