College students and staff can now access rapid coronavirus testing twice a week after thousands of kits were sent out to institutions across Scotland.
More than 100,000 lateral flow testing kits which give quick results have been distributed to colleges in the hope of supporting the safe return of teaching on campus.
Easy-to-access systems are in place so that both students and staff can pick-up the at-home kits at their convenience.
Lauren Mulvey, 28, a student at West College Scotland from Paisley, said: “It’s great that we can get these kits directly from the college. It avoids me going to a test centre or a medical centre as I don’t have access to a car so that helps.
“I hope as many people as possible use them to make it safe to return to college. I am healthy and would feel happy in college, but I worry about bringing any virus to my family. It looks like the new normal is beginning to really start – I want to get back to learning and complete my HND photography course.”
In line with current public health guidance, only a limited number of students are allowed on to college campuses at any one time, with safety measures such as social distancing in place.
Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said: “Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms. Rapid lateral flow testing helps to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can transmit the virus to others.
“These easy-to-use at home kits offer extra reassurance so it’s important that students continue to make use of them regularly as restrictions are lifted.
“The test involves taking a sample from your tonsils, or where they would have been, and from your nose, using a swab. You can get a result in 30 minutes. Asymptomatic testing is important as it can identify cases of Covid-19 that would otherwise not be picked up and, by doing so, break chains of transmission.”
So far, a total of 101,736 testing kits, each including seven individual tests, have been provided to colleges by the Scottish Government. Once administered, the results are visible on the test within 30 minutes and can be uploaded to the NHS website.
John Masson, 46, from Glasgow, who is studying HND photography, said: “I think it is a good thing as it gives you and people around you some reassurance and confidence.
“It has been a difficult year being away from my classmates and if using these tests means that we can work together again – I am all for it.
“I am hoping this is another step towards getting back to being a working student and being a professional photographer when I graduate this later year.”
The Scottish Government recommends two tests are taken each week, ideally three days apart.
Matt Crilly, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said: “It’s up to all of us to keep our colleges safe for students and staff. I’d encourage all students to take up the offer of regular voluntary asymptomatic tests.
“It’s quick, easy and you can do it at home – get tested.”
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “I’m pleased college students and staff can support the efforts we are all making to keep each other safe by using lateral flow tests.
“Colleges are making these available with easy-to-access systems, and the reassurance they bring is a really important part of being back on campus for essential learning.”