Posted Saturday 5 December 2020
Kingston University students now have an opportunity to receive a free, rapid Covid-19 test on campus so they can help keep families, friends and the wider community as safe as possible when they travel home for the festive period.
The University has set up a testing hub on its Penhryn Road campus as part of a pilot programme being run in partnership with public health officials from Kingston Council, with students and staff able to book slots at the centre online.
The test is only available to Kingston University students and staff who do not have Covid-19 symptoms, as part of a process known as asymptomatic testing. Participation is voluntary, with the programme aiming to help give those students who wish to take a test some reassurance before they start their journeys home.
Based on advice from the government and its borough public health partners, the University initially prioritised students who lived in halls of residence and private accommodation for the tests. Following the success of the programme launch, tests are now being made available to other students and staff.
The simple nose and throat self-swab tests use lateral flow devices (LFDs), with results available within the hour and sent directly to students by text shortly afterwards. Lateral flow tests can process results onsite without the need for laboratory equipment.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the health and wellbeing of students and staff was of paramount importance to the University, as was its responsibility in helping to protect the wider community. "We have worked in close partnership with public health officials from the Royal Borough of Kingston since the start of the pandemic. Playing a key role in the launch of the Council's pilot testing programme is another way in which we can proactively support measures to safeguard our local community," he said.
"While the tests are voluntary, we are encouraging our students to take up this opportunity, which will enable them to spend time with families and friends over the festive period with the reassurance they are reducing the risk of spreading the virus to loved ones and local communities."
Kingston Council's Director of Public Health, Iona Lidington, said the University was one of the first organisations to partner with the Council to offer asymptomatic testing as part of a pilot programme being rolled out in the borough.
"We're really pleased to be working with Kingston University to help students access asymptomatic coronavirus testing before they travel home to see their friends and families for the festive break," she said.
"These rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests are a vital tool in helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19. A negative test result lets students know they are likely to be negative for coronavirus at the point of the test and, if they have been following the prevention measures of hands, face and space for the three days ahead of this, then they will have greater peace of mind about how safe it is to travel back to their families during the government's designated student travel window.
"As well as access to testing, it's vital that we all remember the key prevention messages about washing hands, wearing face coverings and making space – to protect each other and minimise the spread of the virus in the run up to and over the holiday season."
The rapid lateral flow device (LFD) test does not pick up every positive case of Covid-19. It is more accurate when there are higher levels of virus present, so if someone is in the very early stages of infection this may not be detected. Having two tests four days apart will assist with picking up these cases. If someone develops symptoms of Covid-19 after an LFD test, they should book for a regular test through the NHS Test and Trace app, NHS website or by calling NHS 119.