Video: Mass testing of York St John students has started – here’s how it works

A testing station at York St John University. Photograph: YorkMix
30 Nov 2020 @ 5.32 pm
| Health

The first mass coronavirus testing scheme for people without symptoms has started in York – aimed at university students and staff.

Any student at York St John University can now book online for a lateral flow test at the Lord Mayor’s Walk campus, and get a rapid result.

Staff have set up a mass testing programme within just two weeks. Once a student has booked, they go to the sports hall – now home to the test site – at their allotted time.

After registering at the front desk, they are directed to one of the testing stations.

“They’re given a swab kit,” said Dr Amanda Wilcox, the university secretary. “And so they take the swab themselves, and then pass that to the supervisor across the screen, who mixes it with reagents and puts it onto the onto the slide.

“The student then leaves, the slides develop, the tests are entered onto the computer, and the students are notified of the results by their by their mobile phone.”

Getting them home

These are the fast, lateral flow Covid tests which, Dr Wilcox said, are 77% accurate.

A student is asked to take two tests, to improve the accuracy. And if they do get a positive reading, they need to book themselves a full coronavirus test to double check the result.

“The reason that the tests have been done now is that if the student does have a positive test, the latest state they would be out of isolation is the 19th of December, so they’ve still got time to go home safely,” she said.

The system has the capacity to test all 7,000 students, and hundreds have already booked their tests.

Dr Wilcox said the aim was to get every student home in time for Christmas.

“It’s been an amazing team effort. They’ve turned it around in less than two weeks – just to be able to give the students that opportunity to get those tests before they go home.”

She said number of infections at York St John University is now “really low – one or two a day at most. So we think we’ve come through the worst of it.”