Ben HaywardSeptember 10th

A number of universities have said they will provide coronavirus tests for both students and staff when terms restart over the next few weeks.  

The University of Exeter is the latest institution to sign a contract with a private company to buy thousands of Covid-19 tests and will offer them to anyone showing symptoms or who is deemed at high risk.

The saliva-based tests will be provided by Halo, and it is hoped will deliver results within 24 hours, with Exeter’s Deputy vice chancellor, Tim Quine, said the safety of staff and students was the university's ‘first priority’.

Speaking to BBC Radio Devon, Mr Quine said the university had to do its own work to help prevent the spread of the virus in the region. 

He said: "By bringing students to the region we know we are changing the risk dynamic. We want to make sure we are doing all we can not to overburden the NHS resources and testing facilities locally.

"We said that in reopening the university our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and staff and the community and we think it's a key part in fulfilling that."

Exeter says it has put in place a ‘full suite of measures’ to protect the whole community including providing face coverings, digital thermometers, Covid-secure buildings and protocols for staff and student behaviour, as well as setting up a rapid response hub for all students and staff to report symptoms and request tests.

The University of Oxford has also announced it will run its own testing service, while Oxford Brookes has been working in conjunction with Oxfordshire County Council to set up the testing station, which is available via appointment to staff, students and local residents. 

Cambridge University has also said it will offer students living in college accommodation a weekly coronavirus test after term starts on October 8th.

Susan Brown, the leader of Oxford City Council, said that although students contribute a  ‘vital part’ of city life they must stick to guidelines to ‘keep Oxford's communities safe’.

Professo Alistair Fitt, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes, said: “[The university] has been working tirelessly to put in place a large number of precautions, in line with government and public health advice.

“The health and safety of all who study and work here, and the wider community in Oxford, is our highest priority, and we have been making adjustments to the way we live and work.”

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