Royal Holloway and University of Surrey carry out mass testing ahead of Christmas break

Mass testing at Surrey’s two universities is being carried out ahead of students returning home for the Christmas break.

Royal Holloway in Egham and the University of Surrey in Guildford began the asymptomatic testing initiatives on Monday (November 30) for students and staff.

The testing at both campuses is part of a nationwide Government drive to get as many students as possible tested for coronavirus before they travel home to family for the festive period.

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The testing is being carried out with Lateral Flow Devices, a throat and nasal swab antigen test, and is for those who are not showing symptoms.

A laboratory to process the results is not required and instead, they can be processed at a dedicated testing site where specially trained individuals can turn around the results quickly.

The Government said it will target universities for testing based on an array of factors; the infection rate in each area, whether testing is already available and the percentage of high risk students in each institution.

The Government has asked universities to complete the testing by December 9 to allow students who test positive to self-isolate at university before heading home for Christmas.

A ‘travel window’ for students to get home has been arranged once the national lockdown is lifted, lasting from December 3 to 9.

The scaled-up testing aims to break the chain of transmission and detect Covid-19 among individuals who may be infected but who are not showing symptoms.

At the University of Surrey, the asymptomatic testing site is at the Surrey Sports Park. At Royal Holloway the test site has been set up in the Picture Gallery at the university. Students have been advised to take a second asymptomatic test after receiving an initial negative test result, where possible.

Dr David Ashton, Deputy Principal at Royal Holloway, said: “The health, safety and well-being of students, staff and our wider community is a priority at Royal Holloway.

“We are keen to do everything we can to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and it is important that we all play our part in trying to stop the spread of the virus.

“Asymptomatic testing will give students a measure of confidence to travel safely over the holidays, provided they do so within 24 hours of having a second negative test.”

Coronavirus cases at the universities

Both universities have had cases of coronavirus since the beginning of term.

In its most recent update, Royal Holloway reported there were three students self-isolating after testing positive as of November 24.

As of November 30, the University of Surrey has had a total of 263 cases among students and staff since September 17. In the most recent seven days there were 10 new positive test results.

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