Vice-Chancellor and Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire update on the roll out of the University's asymptomatic testing programme

9 December 2020

Professor Quintin McKellar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, said: 

“Today (9 Dec) marks the closure of the Government’s student travel window.  The last two weeks have seen the University of Hertfordshire move all teaching online for the remainder of the term, and the build of an asymptomatic testing site on the University’s College Lane campus. This has taken a huge collective effort of hard work across the institution and our commitment to the safety of our community and the front-line national fight against COVID-19 remains a key priority.

Our students have responded well, nearly 3,000 students and staff with no COVID-19 symptoms have been tested so far, with bookings continuing until Friday 18 December for placement students in particular. Over 95% of those tested have been students, and less than 1% (0.18%) of individuals have tested positive – lower than the national average*.

We have continued to invest and work incredibly hard to provide a COVID-secure environment to minimise the risk of the Coronavirus to staff, students and the local community.  We have maintained a consistently low number of infections within our community and there has been no student to staff transfer cases recorded so far.

The University’s asymptomatic testing unit will take a pause over Christmas and will reopen on Monday 4th January for the phased return of our students, who we really look forward to welcoming back.”

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire said:

“Over the past few weeks along with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council we have worked closely with the University of Hertfordshire to support the roll out of the asymptomatic testing programme, to enable students to return home safely this Christmas. The huge uptake by students and staff is a testament to everyone’s determination to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all those involved in the collective effort, especially the University and Welwyn Hatfield Council partners.

“While the programme has helped minimise the immediate risk of transmission to friends and family, it is vital that all students leaving, and returning to the county continue to play their part during the festive season. The virus is still prevalent in our communities, so we all must all work to protect ourselves and those around us by keeping up the basics of washing hands, wearing a face covering in public and social distancing.”

*According to the Office for National Statistics, 0.3% of those aged 2 years or older tested positive for COVID-19 with no reported symptoms (15 August to 26 October).


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