The University of Exeter has agreed a partnership with Halo, the UK’s first commercial provider of saliva-based PCR tests for Covid-19. The agreement will ensure rapid testing of students and staff at campuses in Exeter and Cornwall, providing both same day and next day results.

The university says the simple test and fast results will enable it to both quickly reassure people with possible symptoms but who are not infected and also identify any positive cases who can then be isolated and supported to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The university 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.

The saliva tests involve a simple spit sample into an MHRA approved container and the same type of RT-PCR analysis that is used for national testing. The system is managed by an app which records minimal contact information and delivers the result to the participant. This system will provide students with a rapid testing service without having to leave their accommodation.

Those participants who take tests in the morning will receive same day results, participants in the afternoon will receive results the next day. The test results will then be fed into the national Test and Trace system.

Sean Fielding, who has been coordinating the university’s testing plans, said: “We have been working hard to make our campuses and the communities around us as safe as possible. Offering rapid and reliable saliva tests is a simple way of encouraging more people to get tested and that will help us spot any potential problems early so we can take the necessary steps, working closely with local public health teams and health care providers.

“It’s a new service and we were keen to be one of the first organisations to lead this approach in the UK.”