The Government’s plan to test all students before they leave university for Christmas was thrown into question after unions raised “grave concerns” about the accuracy of the Covid-19 tests being used and warned that the mass evacuation of students was a “recipe for chaos”. Are you concerned about this causing a spike as students return to London?
It is concerning that lateral flow tests, used by universities, are known to miss some cases of COVID-19. However, these tests are an additional tool which detect asymptomatic cases that we wouldn’t otherwise know about. It is important that students have an opportunity to see loved ones after a challenging term.
To help prevent a spike in cases, students returning home should limit transmission by social distancing with people from other households, meeting outdoors or in well ventilated places, maintaining good respiratory and hand hygiene. Students have also been advised to keep social contact to a minimum before travelling at the end of term. Any student who develops symptoms should self-isolate, with the rest of their household, and request a test via the usual route, irrespective of their previous lateral flow test result. I have written to Gavin Williamson requesting clarity around arrangements for students’ return to higher education in January.