Get tested

The University offers swab tests to college and University staff and students displaying symptoms of COVID-19. For information on symptoms and how to get a test, see information on 'Symptomatic testing' below. We are also running a programme of asymptomatic screening for students living in college accommodation. For more information on this programme, see below.

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If you receive a positive test result, you must also alert your Porters’ Lodge straight away, so they can inform the College Nurse and/or your Tutor. Do not go to the Porters’ Lodge in person. You should report in this way whether you live in College or private accommodation. This will help your College provide you with support and also allows us to fulfil our obligations to local public health authorities.

 

Symptomatic testing

Last updated 25 September 2020
Since April, the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) have been working together to provide COVID-19 testing for students and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19. The team leading the testing programme have reviewed a wealth of data they have collected relating particular symptoms to the likelihood of testing positive. The conclusions of this review are that:

With immediate effect, only one negative swab result will be required to exclude COVID-19. This change is both supported by our data review, and in-line with existing guidelines for COVID-19 testing from NHS Test and Trace. In a very few cases, more than one swab may still be required, should the first swab be void for any reason, or return a borderline result.

With immediate effect, there is a revised list of symptoms for you to be aware of, and which you should act on to request a test for COVID-19. Again, this change is both supported by our data review, and in-line with existing guidelines for COVID-19 testing from NHS Test and Trace. These now ONLY include one or more of the following:

  • High temperature - this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature higher than 37.8C
  • New cough - this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough if you have one
  • Loss or change in your sense of taste or smell - particularly in the absence of nasal congestion

Should you or one of your household develop any of these symptoms, please isolate immediately in line with NHS guidance. Your College will also have specific information about household isolation on its website.

You must also alert your Porters’ Lodge straight away in this situation, so they can inform the College Nurse and/or your Tutor. Do not go to the Porters’ Lodge in person. You should report in this way whether you live in College or private accommodation. 

You should then arrange a test immediately by:

  • Call Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health on 01223 216767 (8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday), stating that you wish to be tested as part of the University of Cambridge’s testing programme. If you develop symptoms out of hours, please request a test using the NHS websiteThe University pod outside the Department of Engineering is currently closed because of staff shortages, but will be reopening towards the end of the week beginning 28 September. In the meantime, tests are available at the CUH pod on the Addenbrooke’s site. We apologise for the inconvenience.
  • Inform your Manager and/or College as necessary
  • Self-isolate until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases teams, in accordance with Public Health England (PHE) guidance

Finally, we regret that, from now on, we will now only be able to offer swab tests to students, University and college staff, and certain defined affiliates, but NOT household contacts of staff and students. This is because thousands of students will shortly be returning to Cambridge, and testing capacity is limited. We therefore need to focus this capacity on directly reducing transmission within the University. This decision may be revised if greater capacity becomes available.

This webpage will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. 

Where can you get tested?

You will be offered a choice between tests at one of two locations:

  • S2 Testing Pods, Addenbrooke's Hospital – 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am to 1pm on Friday. These pods are only accessible by car, or bike while wearing a mask. If you are already on the Biomedical Campus, you can access the pods on foot while wearing a mask.
    Map and access information for Addenbrooke's S2 Testing Pods location (PDF)
  • Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 8.30am to 2.45pm, Monday to Thursday. Accessible by car, or bike/foot while wearing a mask.
    Map and access information for Engineering's Dyson Building location (PDF) The University pod outside the Department of Engineering is currently closed because of staff shortages, but will be reopening towards the end of the week of September 28th. In the meantime, tests are available on the Addenbrooke’s site. We apologise for the inconvenience.

If you develop symptoms after 1pm Fri, or any time on Sat-Sun, or cannot access either of these two locations, you can arrange a test at an alternative location using the NHS website.

Getting your test: what to expect

This video walks you through one of Cambridge's COVID-19 testing sites so you know what expect.

 

 

Getting your results

Your test results will be available within 24 hours via ‘MyChart’, a web-based application that enables access to results from your Addenbrooke’s electronic record. If your test is positive, you will be called by the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health and you must self-isolate in your accommodation for 10 days from the date upon which you first experienced symptoms. Everyone else in your household group will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from that same date. You should continue to self-isolate until you receive your result but you can come out of isolation if your test is negative, as can other members of your household.

If you receive a positive test result, you must also alert your Porters’ Lodge straight away, so they can inform the College Nurse and/or your Tutor. Do not go to the Porters’ Lodge in person. You should report in this way whether you live in College or private accommodation. This will help your College provide you with support and also allows us to fulfil our obligations to local public health authorities.

Further advice will be given on receipt of positive and negative testing results. Your College, along with any nominated self-isolation supporters you already named, will offer support to you during this time. Refer to your College website for FAQs on this and related matters.

Ensure you are familiar with government advice on when to self-isolate or household isolate.

 

Weekly asymptomatic screening programme for COVID-19 at the University of Cambridge

Last updated 25 September 2020 - read as a pdf
Consent form
Privacy notice (pdf)
Swabbing protocol (pdf)


From the start of Michaelmas Term, all undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge living in College accommodation will be offered a weekly test for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, even if they show no symptoms.

Around half of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop symptoms, such as a high temperature, cough, or a loss or change in their sense of smell or taste. Others show no symptoms, and are unaware that they are infected at all (they are asymptomatic). Among university students, the rate of asymptomatic infection may be even higher.

We know that people with SARS-CoV-2 infection but no symptoms can still spread the virus to others. The aim of the screening programme is therefore to identify students with asymptomatic infection, so they can avoid infecting more students or members of the Cambridge community.

The test will be self-administered, using a swab to take a sample from the nose and throat. Because we have a limited number of tests available, samples from several students will be tested together in pools. Pooling tests will allow us to make the best use of our testing capacity.

In general, samples will be pooled by household. In College accommodation, a household is a unit where students share communal facilities, such as a bathroom or kitchen. Some smaller households will be asked to join neighbouring households in a single testing pool, while some larger households will be split into smaller testing pools.

Samples will be tested at the Cambridge COVID-19 testing facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. If a pooled screening test is positive, the household will be informed within 24 hours, and students in the household will be offered individual tests to confirm the positive result.

Households with positive pooled screening tests will be asked to follow University isolation recommendations until the results of individual tests are known. Individual students with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and their household and contacts will then be supported in following national guidance on isolation.

Participation in the programme will be voluntary, but we encourage everyone to take part. We anticipate that the majority of students will do so, to help keep themselves, their friends and colleagues, and the wider community safe.

Updates to the screening programme will be made available on this website as they are made. Detailed information on the programme is available here.

Flow chart for the weekly asymptomatic screening programme for COVID-19 (PDF)

Pooled sample collection for the weekly asymptomatic screening programme (PDF)

See also: FAQs on the screening programme

 

Further information

Testing information for students

Testing for staff

NHS advice: when to self-isolate and what to do

Mike Weekes describes Cambridge's unique testing facility set up by Cambridge Institute for Medical Research