Mobile testing units at UEA after Covid cases surge

Student in mask at UEA

Students and staff at the University of East Anglia have been asked to get tested amid rise in cases. - Credit: Archant

Students and staff at the University of East Anglia are being told to get Covid tested this week after a recent rise in infections associated with the Norwich campus.

Mobile testing units have been erected as Norfolk County Council’s public health team works with the UEA to arrange for quick and easy PCR testing for students living on campus.

Those in private accommodation in the nearby community, as well as staff regularly visiting campus, are also being asked to get tested. 

Sam Carpenter watches as Stuart Bedford carries out the lateral flow test on the new Covid-19 mobile

Covid-19 mobile testing unit. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Latest figures show 24 students and two staff members tested positive for Covid in the seven days up to last Thursday (July 1). 

On June 28 alone 10 people were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.
UEA, which has been supporting lateral flow testing with its students and staff throughout the pandemic, has switched to on-campus PCR testing after data from testing and contact tracing data showed a rise in infections in Norwich. 

A large number of these are located at the UEA and the neighbouring residential areas, with a high prevalence of infections in young people aged between 18 and 30 associated with the university.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said: “I am appealing to students and staff both on and off campus to get tested at the sites we are providing within the next seven days.

“UEA has been doing an excellent job throughout the pandemic with their management of Covid-19 on campus, including their approach to testing, contact tracing and supporting self-isolation.

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“Despite all best efforts, it’s not surprising that we are seeing this increase in cases amongst university students as we know there is a lower rate of vaccination amongst this population and a much higher likelihood of young people living in houses of multiple occupation and socialising in pubs and other venues.”

Prof Neil Ward.

Prof Neil Ward. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

UEA deputy vice-chancellor Professor Neil Ward said: “We are encouraging all students in Norwich and all staff regularly on campus to get a PCR test this week.

“This is a one-off PCR test to help public health officials understand the level of infection and break the chain of transmission. 

“By taking part in this one-week PCR test students and staff will be assisting public health and helping to contain the virus.”