Cambridge to offer weekly COVID testing for students living in college accommodation

Students living in college accommodation will be able to have a weekly test, even if they are showing no symptoms

In an email sent out today (9th September) to all students, Professor Patrick Maxwell, the Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at Cambridge, wrote of the university’s plans to offer a weekly test for SARS-CoV-2 to all undergraduate and postgraduate students living in college accommodation, even if they are asymptomatic.

Professor Maxwell explained that tests are being routinely offered to asymptomatic students, as “it is possible for people to spread the virus and infect others even if they are unaware that they themselves are infected.”

This action forms part of a number of measures that the University and its colleges are taking in an attempt to keep students safe during the pandemic. However, due to limited capacity, the testing is only available to students living in college accommodation, as it is here that the density of students is greater and thus the risk of transmission is also higher.

The test on offer will be self-administered, using a swab to take samples from the nose and throat. Samples from a single household will be pooled together and tested at once to reduce the number of samples analysed. This is being done in an attempt to “make the programme manageable” in light of the “limited testing capacity.”

If a pooled household tests positive, they will be informed of this within 24 hours and offered an additional individual test to confirm this positive result. Any students with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection will then have to follow national guidance on isolation, alongside their household and contacts.

The email notes that participation in this weekly testing programme will be voluntary, but that the University encourages everyone to take part, as this will help keep students, staff and the wider community safe. Further information on the weekly testing programme can be found on the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni website.

Cover photo credit: Suicasmo / CC BY-SA (creativecommons license)