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

Symptom-free testing for COVID-19

Last updated 17 September 2021 

The University’s symptom-free testing centres closed on Tuesday 29 June. The University is changing the way it supports Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing, and will be focusing on self-testing via LFD Collect test kits and those available through other government testing routes from the end of June. The use of assisted testing has been declining with staff and students preferring to use LFD Collect. Thank you to everyone using and/or involved in running the testing centres. 

Staff working on site and students in Oxford are encouraged to continue to test and report results to the Early Alert Service and the NHS twice a week, and can access tests either via LFD Collect or another government-sponsored scheme

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 staff and students can pick up pre-packed LFD test kits (each with seven LFDs) to use at college or home from:

  • their college (each college will issue kits only to its own members)
  • the Weston Library (11am–1pm, Mon to Fri)  please note that LFD Collect will not be available from the Weston Library from 31 July until closer to the start of Michaelmas term
  • the Richard Doll Building on the Old Road Campus (8.30am–4pm, Mon to Fri)
  • Radcliffe Humanities in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (9am–5pm Mon to Fri but not between 12.30 and 1.30pm)  
  • IT Services 13 Banbury Road (8.30am–5.30pm Mon to Fri) or
  • the Cairns Library Reception, Level 3 Academic Centre, at the John Radcliffe Hospital (10am–12noon on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri; 2pm–4pm Wed).

Please note that you must ensure you wear a face covering (unless exempt) when coming onto the hospital site and into the library. The wearing of face coverings also remains a requirement in University buildings.

We strongly encourage you to participate in regular testing and choose the testing option that works best for you. This includes those of us who have been vaccinated. As the number of people living and working in Oxford increases, regular testing will be increasingly important. 

More information about each option can be found below. 

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.)

Choose the testing option that works best for you

LFD Collect 

  • The LFD Collect service gives you the chance to pick up pre-packed LFD test kits (each with seven LFDs) 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:

    • college (each college will issue kits only to its own members) 
    • the Weston Library (11am–1pm, Mon to Fri)  please note that LFD Collect will not be available from the Weston Library from 31 July until closer to the start of Michaelmas term
    • the Richard Doll Building on the Old Road Campus (8.30am–4pm, Mon to Fri)
    • Radcliffe Humanities in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (9am - 5pm Mon to Fri but not between 12.30 and 1.30pm)
    • IT Services 13 Banbury Road (8.30am - 5.30pm Mon to Fri) or
    • the Cairns Library Reception, Level 3 Academic Centre, at the John Radcliffe Hospital (10am–12noon on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri; 2pm–4pm Wed).
  • 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 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. 

  • Two tests per week should be performed. Wherever possible you should test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. 

  • Staff self-testing via a government sponsored scheme or LFD Collect are reminded that they should perform their test before they travel to work. 

  • You should be familiar with how to perform an LFD and we recommend watching this NHS instruction video. This is very important for getting an accurate result.  Even if you have already completed training, we encourage you to review the video again to refresh your knowledge.  

Other government-sponsored schemes 

  • It is possible to order LFD tests via a number of other routes – details of which 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.
  • Two tests per week should be performed. You should aim to test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. 
  • Staff self-testing via a government sponsored scheme or LFD Collect are reminded that wherever possible they should perform their test before they travel to work. 
  • 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.  

Test Results

What to do if you test positive  

If you test positive in any LFD tests (including those in community testing or received from the government via another route), you must self-isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible and within two days of your result, preferably through the Early Alert Service. You will receive further advice from the NHS and the University Results Liaison Team (RLT). You (and your household unless they are exempt) should immediately self-isolate and assume you have the virus, pending the result of the confirmatory PCR test.

If you receive a PCR test result (positive, negative or void), through a route other than the University Early Alert service (eg via the national NHS service), you must report your result to the EAS.

If you receive your positive result notification at University you should only use public transport to return home if you have no other option. You should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers; please refer to the safer travel national guidance.

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 self-testing LFD results

If you are working or studying on site, you must report all your self-testing 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

Who should take the tests  

Although testing is voluntary, we strongly encourage you to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week, every week if you are accessing any University or college sites, to help everyone feel safer.  This includes staff and students who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 90 days ago.

You should not take the tests if:     

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19. You should instead book a PCR test and follow the advice you are given when you receive your result. (If you develop symptoms between LFD tests, you must stop taking the LFD tests and have a PCR test instead.)

  • You have had a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days. 

Why test students and staff who are asymptomatic for COVID-19?

Hear from our experts – Professor Chris Conlon, Chair of the University's Health Measures Advisory Group, and Professor Christopher Winearls, Clinical Director of the University's Early Alert Service – on the role of lateral flow device testing in a University setting.

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. 

What is the difference between a PCR and LFD test?  

A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the type used in NHS testing centres and the University’s Testing for COVID-19: Early Alert Service. You usually get your result within 48 hours. It is very sensitive as it can detect very small quantities of the virus’s genetic material, either from a live or a dead virus. A positive test proves the current, or recent, presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease called COVID-19. You should take a PCR test if you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19. 

LFDs (Lateral Flow Device) tests can be performed as part of a self-testing programme; you see your result within 30 minutes. They detect the actual components of the virus, for example its coat and spike protein, if they are present in sufficient quantities, which they are when the virus is actively proliferating in the body. A positive result therefore means there is a significant amount of living virus that could cause symptomatic disease or be transmitted to others. A negative test can be explained by the virus not being present at all,  but also by it being there in smaller quantities, such as in the early stage of the infection. Simply put, a positive LFD test result confirms an infection but with a negative test there is a possibility you might be incubating the virus, which is why more than one test is recommended per week.    

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 onto the John Radcliffe Hospital site and into the Cairns Library. The wearing of face coverings also remains a requirement in University buildings until 6 September 2021.

What to do if you test positive  

If you test positive in any LFD tests (including those in community testing or received from the government via another route), you must self-isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible and within two days of your result, preferably through the Early Alert Service. You will receive further advice from the NHS and the University Results Liaison Team (RLT). You (and your household unless they are exempt) should immediately self-isolate and assume you have the virus, pending the result of the confirmatory PCR test. 

If you receive a PCR test result, positive, void/indeterminate, or negative, through a route other than the University Early Alert service (eg via the national NHS service), you must report your result.

If you receive your positive result notification while at the University you should only use public transport to return home if you have no other option. You should strictly follow the safer travel guidance for passengers; please refer to the safer travel national guidance.

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.

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.

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

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

  • having received a positive PCR result or awaiting the result of a PCR test;
  • being a close contact of someone who has tested positive;
  • being a member of the same household as someone who has tested positive;
  • being in quarantine;
  • having received a positive LFD test result and awaiting the result of a confirmatory PCR test.

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 develop symptoms between LFD tests, you must stop performing them and self-isolate, pending the result of a confirmatory PCR test. 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?   

You will be able to pick up pre-packed LFD test kits (each with seven LFDs) from these sites to use at home or in college. 

Tests are free and can be collected at: 

  • college (each college will issue kits only to its own members)
  • the Weston Library (11am–1pm, Mon to Fri)  please note that LFD Collect will not be available from the Weston Library from 31 July until closer to the start of Michaelmas term
  • the Richard Doll Building on the Old Road Campus (8.30am–4pm, Mon to Fri)
  • Radcliffe Humanities in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (9am - 5pm Mon to Fri but not between 12.30 and 1.30pm)
  •  IT Services 13 Banbury Road (8.30am - 5.30pm Mon to Fri) or
  • the Cairns Library Reception, Level 3 Academic Centre, at the John Radcliffe Hospital (10am–12noon on Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri; 2pm–4pm Wed).

Please note that you must ensure you wear a face covering (unless exempt) when coming onto the hospital site and into the library. The wearing of face coverings also remains a requirement in University buildings.

When should I perform the tests? 

You should perform your tests at home. Wherever possible, you should test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. 

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. We recommend watching this NHS instruction video. This is very important for getting an accurate result. Even if you have already completed training, we encourage you to review the video again to refresh your knowledge. 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?  

Results will usually be visible in 30 mins. 

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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