University of Sheffield launches rapid Covid-19 testing for students ahead of Christmas travel window

The University of Sheffield will begin an asymptomatic coronavirus testing programme on campus ahead of an evacuation-style operation to get students home for Christmas.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 4:45 pm

A Covid-19 testing centre will be open to students on a voluntary basis at The Octagon Centre, just off Glossop Road, from Monday, November 30.

The university said it hopes to have the capacity to conduct up to 16,000 tests per week, allowing students to leave the city with “some reassurance for yourself and your loved ones” should they receive a negative result.

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The asymptomatic testing centre at Sheffield University's Octagon Centre will be available for students on a voluntary basis

It comes as students across England prepare to travel home on staggered departure dates between December 3 and 9, known as the ‘student travel window’.

A statement on the Sheffield University website said.“We’re offering free tests for students using lateral flow testing kits, which provide results within 24 hours.

"If you’re planning to travel, a negative test result will enable you to leave Sheffield with some reassurance for yourself and your loved ones. However, you should still consider self-isolating for 10 days when you get to your destination. If you wish, you can book a second test three days after your first.

"Whether you have two negative test results or one before leaving, there is still a risk of you having the virus. Continue to follow government guidance to minimise the risk of transmission wherever you may be.”

Rapid or "lateral flow" tests need high levels of the virus in the body in order to work.

Some health professionals have raised concerns about the accuracy of rapid tests, warning that they may miss as many as half of coronavirus cases.

Around 90,000 people were tested in the first week of a mass-testing trial in Liverpool using the "lateral flow" system.

Sheffield University emphasised the scheme was for “students living in Sheffield with no Covid-19 symptoms.”

“If you’re a taught student, you should schedule your test to take place after completing all of your face-to-face teaching this semester,” the institution added.

“If you’re planning to travel, you should make plans to leave Sheffield within 24 hours of taking your test and receiving a negative result. If you need to travel by public transport, we advise that you book a refundable ticket wherever possible in case you need to self-isolate on the planned day of travel.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.