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Durham University

Research & business

Testing regularly, staying safe and protecting others

(22 February 2021)

Since January, our students and staff have taken over 5,000 lateral Flow Tests, and our pioneering testing programme is continuing to help stop the spread of Covid-19, protecting our University and local community.

We piloted our Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) programme in October 2020, working with the University of Oxford who developed the test. A total of 18,000 staff and students took the voluntary test in the initial phase, before we rolled it out to the rest of our University community.

The aim of the test is to find those most at risk of spreading Covid-19 by identifying staff and students who are infectious, but don’t have any virus symptoms.

By identifying these people, they can then isolate for the required time so they don’t spread the virus unknowingly, which will help break the chain of transmission and reduce the infection rate.

A test like no other

Unlike other university Covid-19 testing programmes, we train our staff and students to self-administer the test using a short online video followed by a quiz, which has to be passed before a test can be booked and taken.

The test involves running a swab around the tonsils and inside nostrils and putting the swabs in a sealed, labelled bag. The results are sent by email within two hours, and a trained member of staff logs them on our internal recording system. They are then shared with Public Health England.

Once the LFT training has been completed, it doesn’t need to be done again and multiple tests can be booked. We are now asking our staff and students to take a test once a week.

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