A NEW walk-through coronavirus testing facility is due to open at the University of Reading this weekend.

People with coronavirus symptoms will be able to book appointments at The University of Reading, The Great Hall, 27 London Road, as part of the government’s UK-wide drive to continue to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for local communities.

Testing is only available for those with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

From the start of the pandemic, testing has been prioritised for the most vulnerable, including patients in clinical settings, care home residents and, vital health and care staff to manage outbreaks. 

The new site is situated so it is easily accessible without a car.

Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre. 

Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through test site will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Testing at the new site will start tomorrow, on Saturday, October 24, with appointments made available every day.

The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, which now includes more than 500 sites available across the UK, including 78 drive-through sites, 228 walk-through sites 258 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five mega laboratories.

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them trace 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, asking 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.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “Throughout this pandemic the University of Reading has been helping the fight against COVID-19 in a variety of ways, including the loaning of labatory equipment, supporting local hospitals, and investigating the science behind the disease. 

"We are incredibly proud to once again be in a position to help our community.”

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and co-chair of the University’s COVID-19 Response Team added: “The University has been working with our partners at Reading Borough Council and health authorities in recent weeks to secure the opening of a testing facility in Reading. 

“The availability of a testing site at our London Road campus, close to the town centre and near to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, will provide greater access to testing for our students and for the wider Reading community.” 

The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Reading and Wokingham Borough Councils and will offer assisted and self-administered tests.

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Health, said: “The Council’s public health team have worked really hard, alongside our University partners, to get this much needed testing facility in place.

"It is a great example of organisations working closely together at a local level to help combat the pandemic.

“The new facility will give residents in Reading easier access to testing on their doorstep, with appointments open to everyone.

"Importantly, test results are expected the next day, which will be a key element of this new testing facility and provide a level of reassurance.”