The total number of cases detected in the University, from asymptomatic and symptomatic testing, equalled 70 Lucas Maddalena

The University’s asymptomatic screening programme has detected 23 asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 from 21 different households in its fifth week of operation (02/11-08/11).

This was a fall of 15 cases from the previous week (26/10-01/11) when 38 individuals tested positive.

Once again, half the students in each household were asked to contribute a swab meaning that 4,583 students were tested. This means the Covid-19 prevalence rate in the University is roughly 0.5%, or 1 in every 200 students, compared to 0.7% in the fourth testing week.

In addition to this 47 individuals tested positive when symptomatically tested bringing the total numbers of positive cases up to 70 for the week. This was 8 less than last week.

While 26 different households tested positive initially, four of these were found to be false positives. One pool still has outstanding results.

From a total of 2,255 testing pools across the University, only 1,890 samples were received and processed at the testing facility. Of these, 12 were reported as void for a variety of reasons including inappropriate packaging and leaking samples.

Participation remains incomplete with 80.4% of eligible students taking part in the screening programme while 16.9% remain ‘undecided’ and just 2.7% declined.

The testing figures come after a study was released by the University of Warwick showing that university testing every week or fortnight could reduce the spread of Covid-19 by more than 50%.

The study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, found that one-off mass testing does not reduce the number of cases but regular testing does.

The study details: “Following isolation guidance and effective contact tracing curbed transmission and reduced the expected time an adhering student would spend in isolation. Additionally, widespread adherence throughout the term suppresses the amount of unwitting asymptomatic transmission to family and community members in the students’ domicile regions at the end of term.”


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Professor Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge said to the Daily Telegraph: “I think the study is interesting and very topical given the widely reported outbreaks in a range of university settings.In Cambridge we have set out to test the feasibility and effectiveness of mass asymptomatic screening and are encouraged to see this modelling.”

“At the moment we are testing fortnightly, and plan to scale this up to weekly soon. The program screened 4,600 students last week and is proving effective in identifying asymptomatic cases and then we support them to self-isolate.”