Students in England to get coronavirus tests for Christmas at home

10 November 2020, 14:56

Students in England will be tested for Covid-19 so they can return home for Christmas
Students in England will be tested for Covid-19 so they can return home for Christmas. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

University students in England could be tested for coronavirus from the end of November to ensure they can safely return home for Christmas.

A letter sent to vice-chancellors confirms plans to roll out mass testing on-campus from 30 November to 6 December to ensure minimal transmission of the virus when students travel across the country to see their families next month.

Tests will be turned around "within the hour," according to the letter from the universities minister, and will use lateral flow tests - the same currently being trialled in Liverpool.

Under the plans, students who test negative for Covid-19 will be allowed to return home to see their families.

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Over a million students are expected to move at Christmas from their university term-time address to their families in other parts of the country.

But those who test positive for the virus will have not be allowed to leave unless they are tested again shortly before Christmas and are found to be negative.

It is understood that students who test positive twice will be made to self-isolate on-campus over the holidays.

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It is expected that face-to-face teaching will end sooner this year to allow for students to leave for home at the beginning of December.

The prospect of hundreds of thousands of moving across the country has concerned many on the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The number of people that could move from an area with a high infection rate to one with a lower rate, and vice-versa, is a particular worry, it is reported.

The plans to mass test students, however, is expected to reduce the risk significantly.

Read more: When will the Covid-19 vaccine be available and who would get it first?

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It follows months of inconsistent advice for students, who have told LBC about their anger with a lack of communication from their universities and the Government.

Last week, students at the University of Manchester staged a protest and tore down metal fencing that had been put up to keep them on-campus during lockdown without any warning.