St Andrews University has launched a mass Covid-testing of students which will allow thousands to return home safe to families and loved ones this Christmas.
A sports hall, which has been transformed into a purpose-built testing centre within 10 days, will have the capacity to mass test 7,500 students a week with results made available within 24 hours.
The offer of asymptomatic tests will be available free to every student planning to return home for the festive period, as well as those remaining in the town.
The testing is voluntary, but students are being urged by the University to take part because young people in particular are likely to have no symptoms but are still able to carry the virus back to family or friends over the holidays.
In one of the 24 individual testing booths, students will be offered a lateral-flow test which involves taking a swab from the mouth and nose in a process that takes just a few minutes.
Students will then be notified of the test result by email or text within 24 hours by NHS Test and Protect.
The Scottish Government is recommending that two tests are taken, not more than five days apart, to have the greatest level of confidence that students are not infectious with Covid-19 before they head back home.
Those testing negative will be encouraged to travel as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours, to minimise the risk of catching the virus before they depart.
Fifth-year geography student, Sophie Tyler, 23 who volunteered to be tested ahead of the full roll out, said being able to have the test
She added: “It’s such a relief to be able to go home to celebrate Christmas with my family knowing I’m not putting them at risk.
“It’s so important for us all to do whatever we can to contain the spread of the virus and having the testing centre here on campus plays an integral part of that effort.”
Alastair Merrill, Vice-Principal, Governance hailed the creation of the centre as a significant step forward in the University’s efforts to keep students safe.
He said: “This is huge for the university as testing is one of the key things we can do to take the battle back to Covid.
“Although this semester we have been responding to Covid, having this testing centre means we can plan to get students home to their families and loved ones for Christmas in a way that gives them as much confidence as possible that they are keeping themselves and their families safe.
“This part of a Scottish Government initiative asymptomatic testing is being offered across the whole of the UK and we’ve been working really closely with the Scottish Government and Universities Scotland and other high level UK education institutions to make this happen.
“I’m very pleased by the initial numbers of students who have signed up to be tested but we must remember that his centre has a capacity to deliver 7,500 test per week so there is no room for complacency and we will continue to encourage students to get their two tests in three to five days apart and then to travel home as quickly as they can while keeping their social contacts to an absolute minimum.”
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