This section provides health and wellbeing advice for all students, including information on testing for COVID-19.
It is important to look out for your physical health during the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep yourself up-to-date with the current UK government advice on coronavirus:
The NHS website provides guidance on the symptoms of coronavirus, how to avoid catching or spreading it, and what to do if you are concerned.
If you have developed symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you think have developed symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should:
Follow the advice of your country's relevant health authority. In the UK, this is the NHS, which can provide up-to-date guidance through their online 111 service.
- If you are living in College accommodation, remain in your room and notify your College's porters' lodge by phone. Your College will then be able to support you during your illness.
In partnership with Addenbrooke’s Hospital we are offering a PCR swab test to all undergraduate and postgraduate students currently in Cambridge who have symptoms of possible SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19), as well as their household contacts (anyone with whom you share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen).
The test involves a simple nose and throat swab and should take less than three minutes. It will tell you whether you are currently infected, helping you protect yourself, your friends and colleagues, and the wider Cambridge community.
Cambridge will also offer all undergraduate and postgraduate students living in college accommodation a weekly test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, even if they show no symptoms. Find out more about the weekly asymptomatic screening programme.
When should you seek a test?
If you have symptoms that include fever, persistent cough, a change in sense of smell/taste, or any other 'flu-like symptoms such as sore throat or muscle aches, then please:
- Call Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health on 01223 216767 (0830 to 1630 Mon-Fri), stating that you wish to be tested as part of the University of Cambridge’s testing programme. A nurse will discuss your symptoms and, in most cases, book you a PCR test. Do this as soon as possible, as the test is most accurate within a few days of your symptoms starting.
- Inform your Porters’ Lodge immediately by telephone – not in person.
- Stay at home in your room and self-isolate in accordance with NHS guidance. Your College will also have specific information on its website.
- Quarantine advice for household contacts (anyone with whom you share a bathroom, toilet or kitchen) can be found here, and will be communicated to these contacts where necessary by your College Nurse and/or your Tutor or senior Tutor (unless you live in private accommodation in which case you should share the information below with your housemates).
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-5pm Mon-Thurs and 8.30am-1pm Fri; only accessible by car, or bike while wearing a face covering, unless you are already on the Biomedical Campus, in which case walking while wearing a face covering is possible
Map and access information for Addenbrooke's S2 Testing Pods location (PDF)
- Pod outside Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 0830-1445 Mon-Thurs; accessible by car, or bike/foot while wearing a face covering.
Map and access information for Engineering's Dyson Building location (PDF)
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.
After you have been tested, please continue to self-isolate until you receive your result. You will receive your results within 48 hours of the test.
What are the initial steps for other members of your household?
If your symptoms include one or more of: fever, prolonged cough or change in sense of smell/taste, then the other members of your household need to quarantine (household isolation) in accordance with NHS guidance. Your College will also have specific information about household isolation on its website.
Other members of your household do not need to quarantine if your symptoms only include other 'flu-like symptoms such as sore throat or muscle aches, unless you subsequently test positive.
If you receive a positive test result, you must 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.
If your test is positive, you will be called by the Infectious Diseases team at Addenbrooke's Hospital. You should inform your Porters’ Lodge immediately and continue to self-isolate in your own accommodation along with any other household members as per the guidance above. Information about how long to isolate is available from this NHS website. Positive test results will be reported to Public Health England (PHE) and they will contact you for information to support further contact tracing.
If your test is negative, you will soon receive an email or text message from the Infectious Disease team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Your symptoms determine what happens next:
- If your symptoms included one or more of: fever, prolonged cough or change in sense of smell/taste, then your entire household should remain in household isolation until the student with those symptoms tests negative twice. You may already have a slot for a second test, but otherwise you should call Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health on 01223 216767 to arrange your follow up test as soon as you receive your first negative result. A second test reduces the risk that the first result was a ‘false negative’.
- If your symptoms only included other 'flu-like symptoms such as sore throat or muscle aches, your household does not need to remain in isolation.
What should you do if someone you met outside your household tells you they have COVID-19 symptoms?
In this situation, you are not required to isolate unless you or someone in your household develops symptoms or you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
What should you do if you are told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you have been in contact with a person who has coronavirus?
In this situation you and those that you live with must follow separate advice available here. If you develop symptoms of coronavirus you should get a test to check as soon as possible. Everyone in your household must self-isolate until you have been tested and received your result. If you test negative (regardless whether this is once or twice) you must keep isolating in accordance with the separate advice for 14 days from when you were last in contact with a person with confirmed coronavirus. This is because the infection can develop after you are tested.
Anyone who tests positive will be invited to take part in important research being conducted at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease. This research is aimed at helping us better understand and treat COVID-19.
Our PCR test was developed in collaboration with the PHE laboratory at Addenbrooke's Hospital, and all results are integrated with the hospital system and reported to PHE. If you prefer, the NHS also offers a general testing route using the NHS website. Please do not request more than one test except as indicated above.
If you use our dedicated testing service, you may receive your result faster.
PCR tests check whether you are infected at the time the swab is taken. To check whether you have previously been infected, you would need to test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies – these tests are not yet widely available and so we are unable to offer them.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, many of you may be feeling anxious, low or lonely. The University recognises that significant disruption to daily life is likely to impact our students’ mental health. We want to assure you that the wellbeing of our community is our priority, and we will do all we can to support you during this difficult time.
You can access mental health and wellbeing help and support at: