Published: 10:38, 26 November 2020
| Updated: 11:37, 26 November 2020
Test sites for students showing no symptoms of coronavirus are to open at universities next week in an effort to get them home for Christmas.
The asymptomatic testing facilities - where results do not need to be sent to a lab and can be turned around in an hour - will launch at four sites across Kent.
It is hoped the self-swab tests will speed up the process of getting students home safely for the festive period.
In Canterbury they will be set up at the University of Kent, University for the Creative Arts and Christ Church University.
In Medway a site will be available at University for the Creative Arts in Rochester.
Asymptomatic testing helps to break the chain of transmission among students
Students will be encouraged to get tested twice during the first week of December, with test sites opening on Monday.
If they receive two negative tests, they are advised to return home immediately. Should a student test positive they will receive a confirmation and have to self-isolate for 10 days.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “We are committed to get students back to their loved ones for the Christmas holidays as safely as possible, after this challenging year.
“Our plans already minimise the risk of students moving at the end of term, through staggered departure dates in the ‘student travel window’.
"But testing will offer further assurances that students can keep their families safe this winter, and I urge all students who can to take the tests on offer.”
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.
“Innovations such as lateral flow technology hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.
“I’m delighted that universities are working with us to use lateral flow technology, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, in helping students return home for Christmas and to return to a normal way of life as soon as possible.”