Test twice a week. Every week. Your actions matter. Help keep everyone safe
Test twice a week. Every week. Your actions matter. Help keep everyone safe

Regular testing for COVID-19

Last updated 18 January 2022 

Reminder about the vital importance of testing

Omicron is more contagious than previous variants and can still pose a serious health risk for certain people. Alongside other measures, such as face coverings, regular testing with LFDs is a very effective way of reducing the spread of the virus.

As such the University expects staff and students to test twice weekly whenever they are working or studying on site. This includes those of us who have been vaccinated. 

You can continue to pick up LFD kits from your college and University LFD Collect distribution points and you can also access tests via one of the government-sponsored schemes.

It is important that you continue to log all your results (positive, negative and void) with both the University and the NHS especially if you require proof of regular testing for events. 

Before using the LFD Collect service for the first time, please check your details on the Early Alert Service (EAS) website to make sure that there is a phone number and residential postcode recorded for you. You only have to do this once and if you have ever used the EAS before (including for a PCR test) these details will already be present.

The LFD Collect service means that you can pick up pre-packed LFD test kits (each with seven LFDs) to use at college or home from:

Please note that you must ensure you wear a face covering (unless exempt) inside all University buildings and when coming onto the hospital site and into the Cairns Library.

REPORT AN LFD TEST RESULT 

(please note: SSO required) 

(If you are working or studying on site and using an LFD Collect test kit or a self-test kit obtained via another government-sponsored scheme – such as community testing, school testing programmes, pharmacy collect or home delivery – you should report each of your results here, every time you perform a test, as soon as possible after you know the result. Only one test result per day can be reported and you shouldn’t retrospectively report numerous results.)

How to obtain LFD tests

LFD Collect 

  • The LFD Collect service gives you the chance to pick up pre-packed LFD test kits from the University to use at home or in college.
  • No pre-booking is required to collect an LFD Collect test kit. All you need is your University card or your Single Sign-On details. 
  • It’s recommended you check you are pre-registered with EAS before collecting your first box. This is quick and simple to do and will save considerable time when collecting your test kit. 
  • Tests are free and can be collected at the distribution points listed at the top of this page.
  • By picking up an LFD test kit from the LFD Collect service, you are agreeing to use all of the tests yourself and also to report all your results (positive, negative or void) to both the University’s Early Alert Service (EAS) and NHS, every time you take an LFD, as soon as possible after you know the result. Only one test result per day can be reported and you shouldn’t retrospectively report numerous results.
  • A ‘quick reporting link’ will be sent to you by the EAS via SMS and email, allowing you to quickly record your result to the EAS without having to log in with your SSO.  
  • We realise that reporting twice will take more time – but the University does not receive results information from the NHS, and the information is needed to contain outbreaks at the University. The EAS results reporting form is very simple and will not take a lot of extra time.  
  • Email reminders will be sent by the Early Alert Service to prompt you to report your results. 

Other government-sponsored schemes 

  • It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of how to order LFDs can be found on the government website.   
  • You may choose to use non-University testing routes (for example, if you are not in Oxford, or you have irregular work patterns), where it minimises travel or is more convenient. However, we encourage students who are in Oxford to use LFD Collect.
  • You need to report all your results (positive, negative and void) to both the Early Alert Service and the NHS, every time you take an LFD, as soon as possible after you know the result. Only one test result per day can be reported and you shouldn’t retrospectively report numerous results.
  • When reporting to the NHS, you should select 'Oxford University (OX2 6GG)' when asked for the name or postcode of your education provider (search for 'Oxford University').
  • It’s recommended you check you are pre-registered with EAS before reporting your results to the University. This is quick and simple to do and will save considerable time. You can also create a personalised Quicklink that will be texted and emailed to you, and which you can use to report LFD test results from any source.
  • We realise that reporting twice will take more time – but the University does not receive results information from the NHS, and the information is needed to contain outbreaks at the University. The EAS results reporting form is very simple and will not take a lot of extra time. 

Testing Guidance 

**NEW 17 January 2022** Changes to University testing guidance 

The University’s Early Alert Service (EAS) testing guidance has been updated. The changes reflect the government's growing reliance on lateral flow devices (LFD) to identify infections more quickly, allowing for earlier isolation and release. The University guidance is very similar to the government’s updated advice, with the following exceptions: 

 The government advises that everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get a PCR test. 

The University advises that individuals should only take a PCR test via the Early Alert Service (EAS) if they: 

  • have COVID-19 symptoms and receive two negative LFD results 24 hours apart; or 
  • are an unvaccinated contact of a positive case (they should do the PCR between 3 and 5 days from contact if their LFDs are still negative); or
  • work or study on a hospital site and need a PCR test after close contact before returning to work.

This is to reduce pressure on the EAS at a time when the demand for testing is very high. 

Staff and students who would like a PCR test sooner should book via the NHS, and log their result with the University via the external result reporting form. Please see the University testing page for further details.

What to do if you have a positive  LFD test result or have COVID-19 symptoms

Staff and students who wish to use the University’s PCR testing service should note that from Tuesday 11 January: 

  • If you have a positive LFD test result (whether symptomatic or not) you no longer need a confirmatory PCR test through the Early Alert Service. The LFD should be treated as confirmation of infection and you should self-isolate in line with government guidance and ensure you report the LFD result to both the University and the NHS.
  • If you have symptoms you should self-isolate and perform an LFD test. If positive, you should follow the guidance above. If negative, you should perform another LFD test 24 hours later. If that is negative, you should book a PCR test, preferably at the University’s Early Alert Service. If you would like a PCR test sooner than that, you should book via the NHS. (If you do take a PCR test with the NHS, please remember to report your result to the University via our external result reporting form.)

This guidance applies whether you are vaccinated or not. Guidance for close contacts can be found in the general information section below this tab.   

These changes reflect the fact that LFD tests are very reliable at detecting positive cases (a positive LFD indicates infection in more than 99.5% of cases), and will help to reduce pressure on testing capacity in the NHS and at the University.  

Because the tests do not pick up every case, you may still be infectious even if you receive a negative result, so it is essential that you continue to follow all COVID precautions.

Reporting your LFD results

If you are working or studying on site, you must report all your LFD results regardless of whether you obtained the LFD tests via LFD Collect or another government-sponsored scheme such as community testing, school testing programmes, pharmacy collect or home delivery. Every result (positive, negative or void) should be reported to both the EAS and the NHS, every time you take an LFD, as soon as possible after you know the result. Only one test result per day can be reported and you shouldn’t retrospectively report numerous results. 

You will have received an email and an SMS text with a quick reporting link if your LFDs were issued by the University or your college. The quicklink is designed to be quick and easy to use, particularly on your phone, without your SSO login. If you obtained your LFDs from another NHS route you can make yourself a quicklink using the button on the EAS view my details page. It will be emailed and texted to you immediately.

When reporting to the NHS, you should select 'Oxford University (OX2 6GG)' when asked for the name or postcode of your education provider (search for 'Oxford University').

General Information

When should I take the tests  

  • You should perform two tests per week. Wherever possible you should test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. 
  • Staff are reminded that they should perform their LFD test before they travel to work. 

Who should take the tests 

The University expects staff and students to test twice weekly with LFDs whenever they are working or studying on site. This includes those of us who have been vaccinated.

Staff and students who have had COVID-19 less than 90 days ago are still able to become re-infected and, therefore, should take an LFD test if they experience symptoms, and follow the advice above.

What to do if you’re a COVID-19 contact 

If you have been fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine (both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) and identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19, you do not have to self-isolate. Instead, you should take a lateral flow test (LFD) every day for seven days (or until 10 days since your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 if this is earlier). This rule applies whether the case is Omicron or any other variant. You will not need to isolate if the tests remain negative. If you test positive in any of your LFD tests you must self-isolate immediately and follow government guidance.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate immediately (and if your LFD tests continue to be negative after 2 days, you should take a PCR test). Only if the PCR test is negative may you end your isolation and continue the LFDs. If the PCR test is positive you must self-isolate for the required period.

In all cases you should report LFD results to the Early Alert Service and to the NHS, and you must report external PCR tests to the Early Alert Service.

Lateral Flow Device test reliability

There has been some discussion in the media about the effectiveness of Lateral Flow Devices in identifying COVID-19 infections in people who aren’t showing any symptoms.

It’s true that this form of testing does not identify all cases of COVID-19, which is why it’s essential to continue to follow COVID-19 precautions if you receive a negative result. It does, however, detect the most infectious cases in the community, those in whom the viral load is large enough to trigger a positive result. It’s also very unusual to have a false positive. Comparison studies have shown that 99.5% of positive LFD tests are confirmed by a PCR test to be true infections.

It makes a big difference each time we detect a case of COVID-19 in someone who isn’t showing any symptoms, as they can then take action to avoid transmitting infection to others.  Large numbers of staff and students taking the tests will ultimately reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Think about others. You could be next to someone who is more concerned or more vulnerable than you are. They might be looking after someone who is shielding, or be in a bubble at home with someone who is at risk of serious problems if they catch the virus. Be considerate to them by participating in the testing and following the COVID-19 precautions.

So it’s  important you take the tests; they help detect if you have COVID-19  before you develop symptoms. This:  

  • Reduces the risk that you will infect others.
  • Ensures that those who need to self-isolate do so sooner.  
  • Reduces the number of people who will need to self-isolate. 

FAQs - General

About the regular symptom-free (Lateral Flow Device) testing  

The University will utilise the government’s higher education programme of LFD Collect testing to obtain supplies of LFD testing kits. LFD Collect distribution points are operated by University staff and students, overseen by the Early Alert Service team. 

The University continues to evaluate various future options for better and wider testing of staff and students for COVID-19.  It is constantly reviewing developments in government guidance, existing NHS/PHE facilities, local requirements and any new approved and appropriate tests as they become available. 

Are there formal restrictions in place for staff and students using public transport after receiving a positive test? 

Staff and students who receive their positive result notification at work/University should only use public transport to return home if they have no other option. They should strictly follow safer travel guidance for passengers; refer to the safer travel national guidance

Do I have to wear a face covering to pick up my LFD Collect kit? 

Yes, you must ensure you wear a face covering (unless exempt) when coming into University buildings, onto the John Radcliffe Hospital site and into the Cairns Library.

What happens if I test negative? 

Because the tests do not pick up every case, you may still be infectious even if you receive a negative result, so it is essential that you continue to follow all COVID precautions. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate and perform two LFD tests, 24 hours apart. If both of these are negative, you should book a PCR test, preferably at the University’s Early Alert Service.

Does a negative Lateral Flow Device result mean that I can stop self-isolating?

No. A negative LFD result cannot release you if you are self-isolating due to:

If any of the above apply to you then please refer to the latest government guidance.

What should I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms between my regular LFD tests?

If you have symptoms you should self-isolate and perform an LFD test. If positive, you should follow the guidance above. If negative, you should perform another LFD test 24 hours later. If that is also negative, you should book a PCR test as soon as possible, and preferably through the Early Alert Service.

How accurate are the results? 

Lateral Flow Device Tests do detect the most infectious cases in the community, those in whom  the viral load is large enough to trigger a positive result.  It’s also very unusual to have a false positive – comparison studies have shown that  99.5% of  positive LFD tests are confirmed by a PCR test to be true infections. 

Where can I find the service’s privacy statement? 

The test registration landing page directs users to the DHSC Data Privacy Notice, which explains how the DHSC processes their data. 

Can I use the results of my Lateral Flow Device Tests to enable me to travel abroad?  

University PCR or LFD tests cannot be used as proof that people are negative for the virus for the purposes of international travel. The University’s Early Alert Service uses NHS services and is not available for any purpose other than the testing of people with COVID-19 symptoms, or as a way of managing an outbreak. This means that it does not produce the correct certification accepted for international travel. If you need to have proof of a negative test for international travel you must take a test through a private provider.  

Is testing compulsory?   

No, testing is voluntary. However, the risk of COVID-19 remains high and it is essential that we as a community take all necessary precautions to stop the spread of the virus. Testing is a major component of this effort and we hope that the vast majority of eligible staff and students will join us in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Why do I need to input a mobile phone number to engage with the testing system?    

The system requests a mobile number so that public health officials can contact you in the event of a positive test. 

Why do I need to record my postcode on the system before I perform my first lateral flow test?   

Public Health England (PHE) require the residential postcode to ensure that both the amount of testing being done and the results are recorded in national statistics for the right area within the UK, such as those for the Oxford area.   

Can I test if I am under 18?    

We are not currently authorised to test people under 18 or issue them with LFD Collect test kits. 

FAQs – LFD Collect  

Who is eligible to use LFD collect? 

Any student or member of staff at the collegiate University who has a University card and an SSO (Single Sign-On) password may use the service.  

Where are the LFD Collect distribution points?   

Tests are free and can be collected at the distribution points listed at the top of this page.

How do I book an LFD Collect test?  

No booking is required. Just pick up your LFD Collect Box by going to a distribution point and showing your University card or using your Single Sign-On credentials. 

How do I perform an LFD Collect test?  

There will be instructions in the box to assist you performing the test.  Wherever possible you should test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.  

How long do I have to wait for the results?  

This will depend on the type of Lateral Flow Device Kit you have been issued so you should read the instructions carefully but results shouldn’t take any longer than 30 minutes to become visible.

How do I report a test result? 

By picking up a set of seven tests from the LFD Collect service, you are agreeing to use all of the tests yourself and also to report all your results (positive, negative or void) to both the Early Alert Service (EAS) and NHS every time you take an LFD, as soon as possible after you get the result. 

A personalised ‘quick reporting link’ will be sent to you by the EAS by SMS and email, allowing you to quickly record your result in EAS without having to log in with your SSO. Email reminders will be sent by the Early Alert Service about reporting your results.

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