Covid-19 testing to be offered to all Newcastle University students

Published on: 26 November 2020

Thousands of students at Newcastle University will be tested for Covid-19 as part of a mass operation to reduce the risk of them spreading the virus when they travel home for the winter break.

Thousands of students at Newcastle University will be tested for Covid-19 as part of a mass operation to reduce the risk of them spreading the virus when they travel home for the winter break.

The asymptomatic testing site, run by qualified clinicians, has been set up in the University’s Frederick Douglass Centre situated on Newcastle Helix. It will be operating from 1 – 9th December from 10am – 6pm with Newcastle University students able to pre-book their slot.

This follows the Government’s announcement of a travel window for students returning home between 3- 9th December, with universities in England told to move to online learning by December 9.

It is hoped that once the testing centre has been established, it can be used for a second time in January to help with the safe return of students to the city in time for Semester 2.

Colin Campbell, Executive Director of Academic Affairs at Newcastle University said: “We have been working with the Government in recent weeks to establish a large-scale testing facility which will mean students can get tested before returning home safely for the winter break. Our students have been incredibly supportive of the steps being taken that will help them to protect their families and loved ones.

“We continue to support all our students whether they have to self-isolate for a period of time before they return home, or if they remain here over the festive break. For those who need to stay, we will provide a full package of support.

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“Subject to Government guidance in the New Year, the University intends to resume a blended model of face to face teaching and online learning for Semester 2 and the testing facility will help us achieve this.”

The University will be opening some campus facilities over the festive period to offer students places to meet, eat and relax.

Test results

The facility is part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase the availability of mass testing. The University, working with NHS Test and Trace, are able to test students without symptoms, who may be infectious but unaware of this. They will then be asked by Test and Trace to self-isolate if they are positive or reassured if they are not.

Students will be encouraged to get tested and if they receive a negative result from NHS Test and Trace then they are advised to return home immediately. Should a student test positive they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to receive a confirmatory PCR (polymerase chain reaction test which is more commonly used in the NHS) and then may have to self-isolate for 10 days, still with enough time to return home for Christmas. 

These students should notify the University under existing processes so that they can be supported during this period of self-isolation and will still have enough time to return home for Christmas.

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.”

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The Lateral Flow Device being used is:

  • A rapid antigen test
  • Does not require a lab
  • Results available in under an hour
  • Safe and free
  • Will be self-administered (under guidance)

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