Poster with two test vials and the text 'Get tested twice a week. Every week. Stay COVID-safe. Keep protecting the community'.
Get tested twice a week. Every week. Stay COVID-safe. Keep protecting the community.

Symptom-free testing for COVID-19

Last updated 8 June 2021 

From 25 May the University will offer all those studying and working on site a new way of obtaining Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests, via the ‘LFD Collect’ service.  Staff and students will be able to pick up pre-packed LFD test kits (each with seven LFDs) from their college (each college will issue kits only to its own members), from the University’s symptom-free testing centres, or from the Weston Library (11am–3pm Mon–Fri) to use at home or in college. Alternatively, the symptom-free testing centres will also be available, as well as other Government testing routes.  

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. 

(please note: SSO required)

(Only book if you want to perform a test at the University’s symptom-free testing centres.  If you’d prefer to obtain an LFD Collect self-testing kit to use at home or college, please see further information 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 get the result. Results of tests taken at a symptom-free testing centre should not be reported.) 

If you are a student you are still expected to get tested before you return to Oxford, twice when you arrive, and then twice a week while you are at university. Please go to the student coronavirus webpage for more information about these tests. 

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: Colleges (each college will issue kits only to its own members): the symptom-free testing centres (at the University Club (Mansfield Rd); St Luke’s Chapel (Radcliffe Observatory Quarter); and the Richard Doll Building (on the Old Road Campus.): the Weston Library (11am–3pm Mon–Fri).

  • 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 ‘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 throughout Trinity term. 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.  

Symptom-free testing centres  

  • These are located in easy-to-access sites around Oxford (further details below), and they follow strict safety measures.   
  • You need to pre-book a test via the Book a Test Button above. 
  • Testing is free and convenient, and there will be staff on hand to assist you.  
  • Testing centres are located at the University Club (Mansfield Rd); St Luke’s Chapel (Radcliffe Observatory Quarter); and at the Richard Doll Building (on the Old Road Campus). 
  • You can choose a location and time that suits you, and tests are available to book two weeks in advance.  
  • At the testing centre, your University card will be scanned and you will be given a registration card with barcode sticker. You will be asked to register your test on the NHS Track and Trace system, either on your own phone if you have one with you, or on a device which will be provided. Staff at the site will assist you with how to register.  
  • You will be asked to swab yourself and then hand over the swab to an assistant, who will perform the test and record it. Staff are on site to support you while performing your swab. 
  • Two tests per week should be performed throughout Trinity term.  Wherever possible, you should test on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. 
  • There is no need for you to wait 30 minutes for the result, which will usually be communicated electronically the same day.   
  • If you have irregular working patterns you should not make special trips into work to perform your LFD tests via University testing sites. We would encourage you to use LFD Collect or a Government self-test kit instead. 

Watch this video for a quick guide to what to expect at a testing centre.

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 the symptom-free testing centres or LFD Collect.
  • Two tests per week should be performed throughout Trinity term. 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. When reporting to the NHS, you should select 'LFD: Oxford University: BGGR (OX1 3BG)' when asked for the name or postcode of your education provider (the quickest way to find this is to search for 'BGGR').
  • 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. 
  • 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, 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) 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.

**NEW 7 June 2021** 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. If you use the University’s symptom-free assisted testing centres, you do not need to do this.

When reporting to the NHS, you should select 'LFD: Oxford University: BGGR (OX1 3BG)' when asked for the name or postcode of your education provider (the quickest way to find this is to search for 'BGGR').

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 in Trinity term 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 been asked to self-isolate by a public health official. 

  • You are self-isolating due to being identified as a close contact

  • 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. 

Why we test

Symptom-free testing for Oxford University students and staff

Symptom-free testing centres

A quick guide to the University’s symptom-free testing centres

FAQs - General

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

The University will utilise the government’s higher education programme of centrally assisted and LFD Collect testing to obtain supplies of LFD testing kits.  The symptom-free testing centres and LFD Collect distribution points will be 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 or attend the symptom-free testing centre?  

Yes, please wear a face covering, unless you are exempt, to protect others.  

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) 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.   

When should I arrange my tests if I work variable shift patterns?    

Staff working irregular working patterns should not make special trips into work to perform their LFD tests via University testing sites. We would encourage them to use community testing or LFD Collect in between where available. 

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 may use the service who has a University card and an SSO (Single Sign-On) password.  

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. 

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. 

FAQs – Symptom-free testing centres  

Who is eligible to use the regular symptom-free testing service?  

Any student or member of staff at the collegiate University may use the service who has a valid University card.  

Where is the testing service and how will I find it?   

The testing centres are located at: 

University Club, Mansfield Road OX1 3SZ  

Open from 12 April 2021 

St Luke’s Chapel, Woodstock Road OX2 6HT 

Open from 12 April 2021 

Richard Doll Building, Old Road Campus OX3 7LF  

Can I perform my test during working hours? 

The University encourages staff to perform the testing twice a week. You may find that the LFD Collect option gives you more flexibility, and the ability to test at home before coming in to work. Staff are requested to talk to their line manager if they need to perform a test inside working hours. We appreciate there will have to be some flexibility in order for staff to attend the testing centres.  

How do I book a test?  

Booking is done online via the regular LFD Book a Test webpages. You will need to sign in using your SSO. 

What if I can’t use my Single Sign-On (SSO) to book a test?  

Common reasons for this are:  

  • You have completed your studies so are not eligible to use the University’s Testing Service. 
  • You have not activated your SSO either because you are new to Oxford University or your job role hasn’t required IT use. You can get help activating your SSO from your college’s or department’s IT Support Staff or from the service desk at IT Services on 01865 (6)12345.  

What if I want to cancel or change the time of a test?  

If you want to cancel or change the time of an LFD test, simply click on the relevant test and cancel and rebook. When attending your test, please make every effort to be on time, as late arrivals can seriously disrupt the service.    

Can I just turn up?  

For safety reasons, and to manage demand, we ask that you use the online booking service. Appointments are sometimes available at short notice, so it is worth checking online or at the symptom-free testing centre after 10.30 am.

Do the testing centres have wheelchair access?  

Yes, there is ramp access in all our test centres. 

What help is there for disabled staff and students? 

If your registered disability would cause any issue with testing, please contact the FM Helpdesk on 01865 (2)70087. 

How should I travel to the sites? 

Short-stay car parking is available at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter to access St Luke’s Chapel and at the Innovation Building to visit the Richard Doll Building on the Old Road Campus. The University Club is pedestrian or bicycle access only, with three disabled parking bays in front of the club and meter parking close by on Mansfield Road.

What happens at the testing centre?  

At the testing site your University card will be scanned and you will be given a registration card with barcode sticker.  You will be asked to register your test on the NHS Track and Trace system, either on your own phone if you have one with you, or on a device which will be provided. Staff at the site will assist you with how to register.  

Staff and students attending designated testing centres will swab themselves and then hand over the swab to an assistant who will perform the test and record it.  Staff are on site to support participants while performing their swab. 

Two tests per week should be performed throughout Trinity term.  Wherever possible testing should be on the same days each week, e.g. Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.  

There will be instructions to assist you performing the test and help on hand if you need it.  

It is a quick and easy process. There is no need for staff or students to wait 30 minutes for the result, which will usually be communicated electronically the same day.

Watch this video for a quick guide to what to expect at a testing centre. 

How long do I have to wait for the results?  

Results will usually be communicated electronically the same day.   

I haven't had my result yet – what should I do? 

You should receive your result soon, but there have been cases of delayed reporting from NHSTT. You can phone the NHS on 119 with your LFD barcode number from the registration card to check whether your test has been reported to their system. Remember to check the junk or spam folder in your inbox just in case the email has been directed there. If the test result record cannot be located then repeat the test as soon as you can. 

Will the test processing operatives be able to identify people with positive tests? 

The process is designed to avoid this. Results are recorded on the NHS system using barcodes and not names – operatives on site are not able to cross-reference the barcode against personal details. A positive LFD result will be sent to the Result Liaison Team who will then identify and contact the individual to provide advice on next steps.

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