Wed 30 Sep, 2020

Scottish universities risk being left behind due to the Scottish Government’s reluctance to introduce routine testing on campus, Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell has said.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee today Mr Ruskell highlighted the work being undertaken by the University of Cambridge which announced that all undergraduate and postgraduate students living in university accommodation would be offered a weekly covid test, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

A similar asymptomatic testing service for students and staff is also being delivered by University of Nottingham. Both universities are using their own testing capacity and systems rather than depend on the UK Government’s lighthouse labs, which have been beseeched with problems throughout the crisis.

Mark Ruskell MSP said:

“The Scottish Government’s reluctance to expand asymptomatic testing defies logic. The Health Secretary repeatedly tells us that regular testing isn’t happening because it isn’t part of her testing strategy, but it’s clear it should be.

“Universities in England have begun regular on campus testing of students, using their own lab capacity, to detect the spread of the virus and reduce transmission. Scottish universities have the expertise and the lab capacity so should be adopting a similar approach to routine testing.

“We know that the chaotic return to campus has contributed in no small part to the second wave of this virus that we are now experiencing. It’s also evident that we need regular on campus testing if we are to get control of this rapidly escalating situation. Students, their families, and university staff all deserve to know that government is doing everything it can to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The World Health Organisation has repeatedly advised that testing is the best way to get a grip of this out of control virus. The Scottish Government has already acknowledged that regular testing works by rolling it out to care home workers. The continuing refusal to roll it out elsewhere is inexplicable and cannot continue.

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