In pictures: University sets up mass testing centre before students head home for Christmas

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
Students get a Covid-19 test at a mass testing centre set up at the sports centre at St Andrews University, ahead of the Christmas holiday. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Students get COVID-19 tested at a mass testing centre set up in the sports centre at St Andrews University, ahead of the Christmas holiday. (Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

A mass coronavirus testing centre has been set up at the University of St Andrews to allow students to be checked before returning home for Christmas.

It is part of a rollout of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to students throughout Scotland before the festive break.

They are invited to take the free self-administered tests, which involve swabbing the back of the throat and inside the nose, overseen by the university’s third-year medical students.

Students get a Covid-19 test at a mass testing centre set up at the sports centre at St Andrews University, ahead of the Christmas holiday. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
students will be asked by NHS Test and Protect to take a further type of test at the centre to confirm the result and should then self-isolate (Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Students from the University of St. Andrews wait to take a lateral-flow test in a mass COVID-19 testing centre, set up in the University's sports hall in St. Andrews, eastern Scotland on November 27, 2020, to determine if they are able to travel home for the Christmas break. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Students from the University of St. Andrews will take a lateral-flow test in a mass COVID-19 testing centre to determine if they are able to travel home for the Christmas break. (Andy Buchanan / AFP)

Results of the lateral flow tests are known within 30 minutes and students will receive an email or text within 24 hours telling them whether they have tested positive or negative for COVID-19.

If these come back positive, students will be asked by NHS Test and Protect to take a further type of test at the centre to confirm the result and should then self-isolate.

One million of the lateral flow device kits have been provided to the Scottish Government by the UK government before being allocated to universities.

The facility in St Andrews will open on Saturday and has capacity for approximately 1,500 students to be tested each day.

It will remain open until 18 December.

A student of St Andrews university attends testing of a lateral flow antigen test facility, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in St Andrews, Scotland, Britain, November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Students swab the back of their throats and nostrils to detect traces of coronavirus (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)
ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 27: A student at St Andrew University participates in testing of a lateral flow antigen test facility, before its opening at the weekend on November 27, 2020 in St Andrews, Scotland. St Andrews is one of several Scottish universities being supported by the Scottish Government to set up temporary testing centres to offer students Covid- 19 tests before they leave for home at the end of term. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
All students who are considering travelling are being asked to take two tests, three to five days apart (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Alastair Merrill, the vice-principal for governance at the University of St Andrews, said all students who are considering travelling are being asked to take two tests, three to five days apart.

He added students and staff have been “working around the clock to make this happen”.

An employee attends testing of a lateral flow antigen test facility, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in St Andrews, Scotland, Britain, November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The free self-administered tests are being overseen by the university’s third-year medical students (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)
An employee attends testing of a lateral flow antigen test facility, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in St Andrews, Scotland, Britain, November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A survey by the St Andrews Students’ Association found approximately 80% of students are planning to go home over Christmas (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)

Merrill said Public Health Scotland has described the university’s response to managing the risks of COVID-19 as “exemplary”, with no evidence to date of any transmission among students in classrooms.

He said no student residences have had to be shut down and no members of the university have become seriously ill due to coronavirus.

Second year medical students work at a Covid-19 mass testing centre set up at the sports centre at St Andrews University, ahead of the Christmas holiday. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
The facility at St Andrews University has capacity for approximately 1,500 students to be tested each day (Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

A survey by the St Andrews Students’ Association found approximately 80% are planning to go home over Christmas.

Emma Walsh, the student union’s wellbeing officer, told the PA news agency students have shown “resilience” but lots have struggled with isolation, loneliness and their mental health.

An employee attends testing of a lateral flow antigen test facility, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in St Andrews, Scotland, Britain, November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The testing centre will be open for students to attend until 18 December (REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)

Walsh, who will be returning home to the west coast of America for Christmas, said: “I live on a small island in between Seattle and Vancouver so it’s a very small community and I would not want to be someone bringing back coronavirus to that community.

“So I think that it’s really great, especially for people from far away, small areas that may not be as COVID-heavy as parts of Scotland are.”

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work