By Rebecca Black, PA
Queen’s University in Belfast has launched a rapid Covid-19 testing programme for students.
Queen’s is the first place in Northern Ireland to conduct asymptomatic testing on a large scale, and the third university in the UK-wide programme.
The testing at Queen’s will support students who hope to return home for Christmas, with results expected with an hour.
Vice-chancellor Prof Ian Greer said the university was keen to be involved in the new testing interventions (NTI) programme.
What should I do if I get #COVID19 symptoms?
Prof Stuart Elborn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Medicine. Health and Life Sciences, is here to explain everything you need to know.
— Queen’s University Belfast 🎓 (@QUBelfast) October 7, 2020
“When we were approached to take part in this NTI to help inform the wider efforts, we were keen to be involved,” he said.
“We hope that the programme will help the health authorities to develop the best approach to mass testing, whilst at the same time helping us to drive down instances of the virus in our campus community and keeping it safe for our staff and students.”
The North’s Health Minister Robin Swann welcomed the university’s involvement.
“It will help us to understand how asymptomatic testing can be implemented and extended more widely in the future, to other parts of Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It is through undertaking NTIs such as this that we can develop fully informed plans for the future, which will benefit everyone in Northern Ireland.”
However Mr Swann warned that testing alone is “not a panacea” to delivering a normal festive period.
“Everyone must continue to adhere to the current restrictions and public health requirements,” he said.
“We must continue to drive down infection rates and ensure that we enter the festive period with as few new cases every day as possible.”