University launches new “Test To Release” Covid scheme as Durham cases rise

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The University has developed a new testing programme designed to let people whose housemates have symptoms or a positive test result to avoid isolation, currently on trial in several colleges.

The new “Test To Release” (TTR) programme would be rolled out for certain cases, allowing students to maintain contact with others even if a member of their household tested positive.

The new programme comes after recent days saw increases in Covid-19 cases among the student population.

The system works by allowing students to apply for the programme, who are then tested every day for seven days. provided that each test is negative, the student may continue to socialise for the period of testing. If they come into contact with another person who tests positive, the seven-day process restarts.

A full explanation circulated to students at St. Mary’s College reads: “if you are in a household with someone who has to isolate, you may be eligible – you let us know, we submit your name to the central system, and then – if you have no symptoms yourself – you get an initial test at a University testing site. If that test is negative, you can sign up to have a test every day for six further days (seven in total) and as long as each daily test is negative, you can then continue without having to isolate.

“If during this process you come into contact with someone else who is positive, the clock resets and you go through the whole process again, so you still need to apply caution. The scheme is not automatically available for every person – College has to submit your details to the central team for approval.”

This scheme is not yet available on demand – a university team has to approve details before allowing people to enter. While TTR frees the person to take the tests from isolation, it does not apply to the person who developed the positive case in the first place, as they will still have to follow quarantine regulations. Several households across the University have already started to use the scheme.

The new programme comes after recent days yielded increases in Covid-19 cases among the student population. According to University data, which relies on students actively self-reporting cases on Banner Self Service, after consistently having zero cases before 6th June, there has been an average of three cases identified a day, with eight identified last Thursday.

Image: St Mary’s College

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