First Covid-19 community testing unit to open in South Gloucestershire at UWE Bristol

Media Relations Team, 30 September 2020

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UWE Bristol logo.
Covid-19 testing centre to open at UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus.

The first coronavirus testing facility is set to open in South Gloucestershire on Thursday 1 October, which will provide more capacity for local residents and students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing.

The centre will be set up at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus and incorporate a drive-through testing service for residents and a walk-through service for students. The unit will be run on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and will reduce the need for people with symptoms from having to travel further afield to be tested.

Testing at the new site will start from Thursday 1 October and will run on a strictly appointment-only basis. Current Government guidance is that only those with symptoms should book a test, which you can do through the NHS portal, or by calling 119. You must not turn up at the site if you have not booked an appointment. Anyone who turns up without an appointment will be turned away.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus and have booked to have a test, you must only leave your home to have the test. If you or any members of your household or support bubble have symptoms of coronavirus, have tested positive for coronavirus or are told by NHS Test and Trace that you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus you should self-isolate immediately.

The Council requested the additional capacity for South Gloucestershire as part of its ongoing work with partners to monitor and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the district. The request was made to add local testing capacity and not in response to weekly case numbers, which as anticipated continue to fluctuate.

South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Public Health Councillor Ben Stokes and Director of Public Health, Sara Blackmore, said: “Our Public Health team is continuing to work closely with our partners in the local NHS and the national Test and Trace system to ensure our Local Outbreak Management Plan means that where cases of COVID-19 arise that we can work across the system to ensure they are contained.

“We are pleased to have additional testing facilities locally because people in South Gloucestershire were having to travel quite lengthy distances to be tested. We hope this new capacity will increase the number test appointments available generally and will help reduce how far people have to travel and contributes to helping stop the spread of the virus.

“We also want to thank everyone for their continued efforts to do the right thing, by observing social distancing, washing their hands and wearing a mask where advised to do so to help us all in working together to help stop the spread of COVID-19”

The facility will be self-contained, meaning that the public arriving for pre-booked tests in their cars and students arriving for pre-booked tests on foot will not need to mix. Clear signage will be installed to direct those with appointments where and how to use the service and drivers arriving for tests will not need to leave their cars for any reason. No one arriving for a test will need to go into university buildings. Students will be required to wear face masks on the way to and from the testing centre, which is located in the visitor car park next to the University’s Bristol Business School building.

Testing units operate six days a week. Availability of appointments for tests depends on the capacity of testing laboratories, which is outside of the council’s control. People booking appointments will be directed to their nearest available testing facility at the time they book on the portal.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: “We are pleased to be hosting a Government test centre on campus, and supporting our students and the wider community at a time when further testing capacity is required regionally and nationally.

“The securely-managed centre will reduce journey times for members of the public and offer an easily accessible location for testing for students should they develop Covid-19 symptoms.

“As the centre is completely segregated, members of the public will not need to access any university buildings and students will not be required to leave our Covid-secure campus to receive their free swab test.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic UWE Bristol has played a significant role in supporting the national response to Covid-19, including the opening of a Nightingale hospital on campus, and we are proud to be supporting the collective effort further with this test site.”

Testing is available for everyone with coronavirus symptoms, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

If attending a testing centre is not convenient or appropriate, tests can be ordered to be sent to your home so individuals can test themselves and their family without leaving the house. They come with instructions for how to carry out and return the swab safely. Tests should be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin at or by calling 119 and you can expect your result the next day.

Anyone who tests positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission. Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.

Members of the public who have booked a test will be directed to enter the campus via the North Entrance off Filton Road (A4174). Directional signs will be in place from the M32 and Abbeywood roundabouts. 

In England and Wales, the NHS free testing service is available to everyone.

What does a test involve?

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted). Those being tested may experience some mild discomfort but it should not hurt.

When people should get tested

Government guidance states that only those with symptoms should book a test. People with symptoms of coronavirus who have booked a test appointment must only leave their home to have the test.

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to sense of smell or taste

Useful links 

  • Everyone with symptoms can book or order a test at Those unable to access the internet can call 119 to book a test. Anyone taking a test at a test site can expect their results the next day.
  • See more information on visiting a local test site.
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