The Government is proposing a week of mass testing for all university students, expected to
run between Monday 30th November and Sunday 6th December. This comes at a time
the virus continues to not only ravage the country, but also Europe and other parts of
the world, in a deadly second wave. According to a letter from the Minister of Universities, the Government has promised wide scale testing which give a fast turnaround as well as results within an hour of testing. According to official figures, weekly coronavirus deaths have climbed by 1,937 in England and Wales - a 40% increase on the previous rise and the second week in a row that the total
has reached four figures.
These figures indicate how hard the UK has been hit, something which is made worse by data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which counts death certificates where COVID-19 is mentioned, has reported a rise of 558 (40.5%) on the previous seven days - when the figure stood at 1,379.
The mass testing programme is aimed at not only stopping the surge of the virus but also to stop the students from spreading the deadly virus during the Christmas holidays, when families gather. The current lockdown, which was declared on Monday 2nd November and will be lifted on Wednesday 2nd which will give many students the opportunity to leave their
learning institutions for holidays.
Some universities in the country are on their final stretch and are expected to finish face
to face classes before the month ends. If this happens, students could be starting their traveling home as early as Thursday December 3rd, with many having left their institutions by Wednesday December 9th. According to the proposal by government, students who will have tested positive will face special arrangements where they will be put into isolation.
Larissa Kennedy, the president of the National Union of Students was glad the government had listened to their calls to ensure students travel home safely saying it will equip students with right information in regards to their travel.
"We particularly welcome this mass-testing approach as it equips students with the knowledge to make informed decisions about travel ahead of the winter break."
Meanwhile, University and College Union leader Jo Gardy revealed it was not yet very clear
whether all universities across the country will take part in the mass testing exercise. His concerns are on the number of students who would be included in the mass testing
programme. "There are huge hurdles to overcome to manage this process," said union leader
Close to 1.2 million students are expected to move at Christmas from their university residence to their homes, which may be in other part of the country. This is a potential danger the Government must address in order to maintain the gains that have been made combating the virus. This movement of close to 1.2 million students has raised serious concern regarding new infections.