Joe Wilson is a fifth-year medical student, at Oxford. He helped to set up the Early Alert Service where he has been working since the summer and is helping to feed student views into the University’s COVID-19 response. Here he explains why he believes that all students should make use of lateral flow device tests when they return for Hilary term.
Why you should get tested when you return
As we begin the new term we are faced with a fresh challenge: the infection rate is much higher than it has been in previous months, and it continues to climb. We also face yet more uncertainty about returning to university.
Given this context, our behaviours when we do return for Hilary term will shape the effects of COVID-19 on us all. If we build on the fantastic attitudes evident throughout Michaelmas, it will go a long to lessening the impact of COVID-19 on ourselves as individuals, as a University, and as large part of the wider Oxford community.
Nobody is going to pretend that Michaelmas wasn’t a challenge. However, due to the diligent behaviour of everyone when it came to isolation and getting themselves tested, the vast majority of Colleges had no active cases towards the end of term – a monumental achievement. A major part of this success comes from the actions of students.
As you will be aware, Colleges have arranged for you to have the opportunity to take three COVID-19 lateral flow device (LFD) tests across the ten days from when you arrive back in Oxford, beginning on the day you arrive. These are once again entirely voluntary, but the benefits of a large proportion of students taking up this opportunity cannot be overstated.
Making a difference
LFDs are not perfect, and to that end no test is, but being able to identify even a proportion of COVID-19 cases at the start of Hilary will make a huge difference in minimising disruption. A common question raised surrounds the potential risk of a false-positive result on one of your LFDs. Anyone who reports a positive LFD result will automatically be invited to have a confirmatory COVID-19 PCR test. Consequently, there will be a high degree of confidence in identifying true-positives, and false-positives will be weeded out. I would encourage every one of you to take up the opportunity of LFD tests on your return to Oxford.
Many of you will have already needed to self-isolate; isolation is a far cry from the ideal situation, but it is the single most effective action you can take if you are a close contact to help limit any further infections. Extensive plans are in place across Colleges and Departments that will provide you with support both in terms of your wellbeing and your studies if you have to isolate.
Above all, thank you for everything you have done so far. COVID-19 isn’t easy; you will have made sacrifices, and will likely continue to do so. However, if that same diligence and goodwill from Michaelmas is maintained this term, we as students will once again be able to lessen the disruption that COVID-19 has imposed on us all.
Booking a test
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms (minor or major), you should book a test as soon as possible. You can also book a test if you are concerned about other symptoms which you feel might be associated with the virus, but you should not book one if you do not have any symptoms.
To access the service, you will need to sign in using your SSO.