Asymptomatic testing sites (ATS) using lateral flow testing technology launched today, 30 November, at University of Cumbria’s campuses in Carlisle, Ambleside and Lancaster as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase the availability of mass testing.
University of Cumbria has worked with NHS Test & Trace to set up on-campus testing sites to get asymptomatic university students tested during the first week of December in order to help students return home safely for Christmas.
From today, testing will be available for the university’s students and staff. Testing will be held at secure on-campus locations. For more information visit www.cumbria.ac.uk/coronavirus/testing/
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.
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.
Before travelling home, students are 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 your household or support bubble and follow safer travel advice guidelines.
On public transport it is important that travellers wear a face covering unless exempt, wash or sanitise hands regularly, use contactless payment and keep 2m distance where possible.
All students are urged to get tested if it is available at their university to help protect themselves and their friends, families and home communities as safe as possible when returning home this Christmas.
A University of Cumbria spokesperson said: “The health and wellbeing our of staff and students continues to be our top priority and, as a caring and compassionate university, we are supporting this initiative as we have a duty to help as much as we can with all efforts to minimise infection.
“The university has been working closely with the Government’s Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to host new NHS Test and Trace centres at its campuses in Carlisle, Ambleside and Lancaster, offering staff and students free Lateral Flow tests.
“This testing programme is mainly intended to help students travelling back to their permanent homes for the holidays, where a negative test less than 24 hours before travel gives some reassurance.
“If a student tests positive for Covid-19, they will have to self-isolate for 10 days, still leaving them with enough time to return home for the holidays. The university has plans in place to make sure students are supported while they are self-isolating with essential supplies, regular check-ins and access to health and wellbeing services.”
Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission. Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus.
Anyone with symptoms should follow the guidance online on how to book a PCR test – or call 119. Lines are open 7am to 11pm.
From the start of the pandemic, the Government has been working around the clock with a range of partners to fight coronavirus. The testing sites in Ambleside, Carlisle and Lancaster are being delivered in partnership with University of Cumbria 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.
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.
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 technology 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 to use lateral flow 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 University of Cumbria in supporting this testing programme will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new lateral flow technology.
“This ATS 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.”