Leicester leading the way to create a safer campus

Students and staff at the University of Leicester will be screened for COVID-19 as part of plans to keep the campus and wider community safe, as students return to the city for their studies. The University is one of the few in the country to run the scheme.

The tests detect the presence of COVID-19 in people without symptoms, who can then be given information about isolating to prevent further spread of the virus. Run in partnership with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL), Leicester City Council and Public Health England, the tests will complement the NHS test and trace system for people displaying symptoms.

The University has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure it is ready to welcome new students to campus. Small groups of students will form ‘bubbles’, which will help to reduce the number of different contacts in both accommodation and small-group teaching. Earlier this year, Leicester launched its innovative dual-learning platform, ignite, which delivers a seamless, dynamic and immersive University experience, whilst maintaining the highest safety standards, both on and off campus.

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences, Dean of Medicine at the University of Leicester said: “The University plays a central role in the life of Leicester - our students and staff are proud of the city we call home.

“Our staff, students, neighbours and partners are all part of our Leicester community, and we want to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep everyone as safe as possible, which is why we have introduced a COVID-19 screening policy. This programme will make students and staff safer, and will enhance opportunities to increase face-to-face teaching, and social interactions for students.

“Through the launch of ignite and our comprehensive safety measures on campus, I   am looking forward to our campus returning to being a vibrant hub of learning and world leading research.”

Martin Tobin, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Public Health at the University, who is leading the initiative said: “It is great to see the city, NHS and university working together in this way. Screening programmes such as this have the potential to make a real difference in the fight against the pandemic.”

Professor Nigel Brunskill, Director of Research and Development at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said: “Leicester Hospitals will seek to play their full part in this initiative; by making the University safer we make Leicester safer, and reduce the burden on our health service.”

While the tests being rolled out on campus in October are not mandatory, members of staff and students are being encouraged to take part to ensure the campus and local community are kept as safe as possible.

The tests will check for COVID-19 using novel LAMP analytic technologies (loop mediated isothermal amplification) developed by Professor Jacqui Shaw and her research team, which  will be scaled-up to assist with delivery of the project.

If a member of staff or a student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be asked to follow Government guidelines for self-isolation and those within their ‘bubble’ will be provided with assistance.