The Chronicle

Mass test­ing for stu­dents

- By DANIEL HOL­LAND Local Democ­racy Re­porter Education · University of Newcastle · Colin Campbell · Frederick Douglass

MASS coro­n­avirus test­ing of thou­sands of New­cas­tle stu­dents will take place next week as they pre­pare to head home for Christ­mas.

Univer­sity stu­dents are be­ing asked to travel home for the hol­i­days dur­ing a week-long win­dow from De­cem­ber 3 to 9. To help min­imise the risk of Covid19 be­ing spread around the coun­try and to de­tect hid­den cases in young peo­ple show­ing no symp­toms, both New­cas­tle and Northum­bria uni­ver­si­ties will be open­ing mass asymp­to­matic test­ing sites in the com­ing days.

For New­cas­tle Univer­sity stu­dents, the free tests will be con­ducted at the Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Cen­tre on the New­cas­tle He­lix site from De­cem­ber 1 to 9, from 10am to 6pm each day, with pre­booked slots avail­able.

For Northum­bria stu­dents, test­ing slots are avail­able at the Sport Cen­tral build­ing in the city cen­tre from 8am to 10pm on De­cem­ber 2 to 9.

If stu­dents test neg­a­tive us­ing the rapid lat­eral flow tests, which can give re­sults in less than an hour, they will be ad­vised to travel home im­me­di­ately.

If they test pos­i­tive, stu­dents must self-iso­late for 10 days and will be con­tacted by Test and Trace to re­ceive a sep­a­rate PCR test to con­firm the di­ag­no­sis. The test­ing is not manda­tory, but stu­dents are be­ing urged to take part to help en­sure they do not know­ingly put their fam­i­lies or oth­ers at risk.

New­cas­tle Univer­sity said it hopes that the test­ing fa­cil­i­ties can be used again to help stu­dents re­turn to the city safely in Jan­uary, af­ter ma­jor out­breaks when stu­dents ar­rived at the start of this cur­rent term.

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.”

Both uni­ver­si­ties will open some cam­pus fa­cil­i­ties over Christ­mas to en­sure that any stu­dents who stay in the city have “places to meet, eat and re­lax”.

There were 54 new Covid cases among stu­dents in the city be­tween Novem­ber 19 and 26 – 21 at New­cas­tle and 33 at Northum­bria.

That is the low­est weekly num­ber re­ported since the uni­ver­si­ties be­gan re­leas­ing the fig­ures in Oc­to­ber.

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