Liverpool Hope University will play host to a mobile Covid-19 testing centre for the foreseeable future, Public Health England has confirmed.
The Mobile Testing Unit arrived at the University’s Hope Park campus last weekend and was initially to be in place for just a short period of time.
Now, however, the MTU will remain in situ for an extended period of time as health experts in Liverpool seek to radically increase the testing of people who live and work in the city.
The Hope facility comes as part of a wider Government pilot to test many thousands of people - whether they have symptoms or not.
If successful, the initiative could be rolled out to other cities across the UK.
Announcing the pilot, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "These tests will help identify the many thousands of people in the city who don't have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing.
"Dependent on their success in Liverpool, we will aim to distribute millions of these new rapid tests between now and Christmas and empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas.
"It is early days, but this kind of mass testing has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against Covid-19."
The pilot will take the number of MTUs in Liverpool from just two to 35.
Around 2,000 military personnel will also help with the endeavour, in terms of both logistics and planning.
The Government also wants people in Liverpool to have access to ‘rapid’ tests - which give results in a matter of minutes, not days.
Dr Penny Haughan, Hope’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Life and Learning, said: “Details of the new MTU sites for asymptomatic testing will be given in due course.
“The MTU we currently have on site is only for people who have symptoms. To attend you need to book via the usual way: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.
“As before, you must only leave home to get a test while ensuring you wear a face covering on your journey there and back.
“You must also return straight home and not visit a shop or other venue.”
The on-testing hub also means new guidance for anyone using The Sheppard-Worlock Library.
Susan Murray, Director of Library and Learning Spaces, explains: “As the COVID testing site is going to continue to be located outside the library, due to city wide testing initiative, we will be using the HCA entrance for student access for the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile students have also been advised not to return home when lockdown commences.
Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, has addressed the issue in a letter to all students, writing: “As for everyone under the new national restrictions from 5 November, you should stay in your current home. This means you should not leave your term time address to return to your parents’ or carer’s home until at least 2 December - and should continue to learn at university for the remainder of this term.
“The reason we are asking you to remain at your university area and not to travel home before the new restrictions come into place on Thursday is to prevent any further spread of COVID 19 – any movement around the country will risk the lives of our loved ones.
“I know and appreciate that a number of you may want to be back with your family during this difficult time, but I urge you to stay where you are in order to save lives. I can assure you that I will work with universities to ensure well-being, communications and mental health support are prioritised.”
The MP also stressed how universities were seeking to resume face to face teaching whenever and wherever it is safe to do so.
She added: “We as a government recognise the importance of face to face teaching, including for your mental health and wellbeing, and we expect this to continue.
“Universities have worked hard to make teaching and learning COVID-secure, and we have not seen evidence of increased transmission within these environments.”