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New COVID-19 testing site at Teesside University

23 November 2020 @TeessideUni

 

Teesside University will be part of a new testing programme using lateral flow tests which could lead to faster, more widespread testing nationwide, as part of the Government’s UK-wide continuing drive to increase the availability of mass testing.

Professor Mark Simpson.
Professor Mark Simpson.

The university will be working closely with NHS Test and Trace to offer students free Lateral Flow tests, so that students without symptoms, who may be infectious but unaware, are able to get tested and asked to self-isolate if they are.

Lateral Flow tests can produce results more quickly than the current PCR tests used across the NHS to test those with symptoms.

The testing site will be located at the University’s central Middlesbrough campus from 30 November. Although part of the NHS testing programme, the testing centre is a designated facility for university students and is not open to members of the public, unlike the existing community testing site also hosted on the University campus for those with symptoms.

Teesside University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Professor Mark Simpson, said: 'We are pleased to have the opportunity to offer this quick and easy testing option to our students and enable them to make an informed decision about returning home for the upcoming Christmas break.

'Teesside has many students who commute onto campus each day, but for those resident in Middlesbrough during term-time, there has been considerable anxiety and a need for reassurance that they can leave their student residence and spend time with family and loved ones, whilst minimising the risk of viral transmission.

'Whilst the test only shows if an individual is clear of infection at the time of testing, this will certainly enable our students to make an informed choice regarding when they travel and if a period of self-isolation is required before departure.

'We encourage our students to book a test at their earliest opportunity, in line with the commitment in our Campus Community Pledge to take collective responsibility for halting the spread of Covid-19.'

Lateral Flow tests detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

The tests are entirely free and have been validated by Public Health England, are deemed safe and offer reliable and swift results.

Use of lateral flow tests could significantly improve the detection of positive cases, so people can isolate themselves and prevent the spread of the disease. Asymptomatic testing will help to protect those at high risk, find the virus and help enable us to go back to as normal a way of life as possible.

The government is working closely with universities to get asymptomatic university students tested during the first week of December in order to help students return home safely for Christmas.

Testing will help to break chain of transmission amongst students especially when they are infected but are not aware of it and help to ensure the safety of their loved ones at home.

We are pleased to have the opportunity to offer this quick and easy testing option to our students and enable them to make an informed decision about returning home for the upcoming Christmas break.

Professor Mark Simpson

Students will be encouraged to get tested twice during the first week of December using Lateral Flow Devices. If they receive two negative tests, 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.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: 'We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.

'Innovations such as Lateral Flow Testing hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.

'I’m delighted that universities are working with us using the latest technology and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour in helping students return home for Christmas and to return to a normal way of life as soon as possible.'

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: 'NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19 with over 32 million tests processed so far.

'The work of Teesside University will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology in Lateral Flow testing. This test centre is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing - which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.'

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.'

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Teesside University has prioritised the safety, health and wellbeing of its staff and students, and the wider community. Hundreds of student nurses have volunteered to join the frontline NHS, whilst volunteers from across the university supported community projects and charities and launched ventures such as producing much needed PPE. Hundreds of regional businesses have received support, boosting the regional economy and scientific equipment and expertise has been made available to support the national effort.


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