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by Louise Wilson
11 November 2020
Student COVID testing plans for Christmas to be announced

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

Student COVID testing plans for Christmas to be announced

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead is to set out plans for allowing students to return home safely over the Christmas break on Wednesday afternoon.

Mass testing for students in England, to take place between 30 November and 6 December, was announced yesterday.

And First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated a similar scheme will be implemented for students in Scotland.

She said students would be a “priority” for the deployment of lateral flow testing devices, after Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie posed the question of testing students after the COVID update on Tuesday.

The BBC is reporting Lochhead will announce plans to have students tested twice, five days apart, with both tests needing to be negative before a student is able to travel home.

Any student who returns a positive test result will be required to self-isolate.

Rennie called for asymptomatic testing to go ahead to ensure there was not a repeat of the situation in September, which saw thousands of students having to isolate in student accommodation. He said: “I have been pushing ministers to embrace mass asymptomatic testing of students for months. 

“When students returned to university in September the government wasn’t prepared and major problems followed. We cannot afford to see the same mistakes made again when they head home for the festive season.

“Students studying in Scotland come from all across the UK and further afield. This is not something that can be handled in isolation. The four nations of the UK must work in unison to ensure the safe return of students.”

In response to his question yesterday, Sturgeon said: “We have a supply of lateral flow testing devices and are currently looking at the logistics of exactly how to use those and with what clinical prioritisation.

“Without pre-empting the statement that will be made tomorrow, I say that students will clearly be a priority for that.”

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