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Symptom-free testing

Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests (LFT) to check for coronavirus. You should get tested twice a week, every 3-4 days. Symptom-free students and staff who are living near to, studying or working on the Bloomsbury campus can continue to get tested at Bidborough House.

Around 1 in 3 people have COVID-19 without displaying any symptoms. By getting tested regularly, you can help to reduce the spread of infection.

The UK Government is using surge testing in some areas to monitor and respond to new, more contagious variants of COVID-19. Find out if surge testing is taking place near you.

We all have an important part to play in protecting our community, keeping campus open and supporting the Government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions. Wherever you get tested, make sure you can travel home safely if you test positive - walk, cycle or drive where possible and avoid public transport. 

    Get tested locally or at home

    Book a test at Bidborough House

    Find out if there is surge testing in your area

    On this page:

    Find out more about the different types of coronavirus tests that are available and which one is the right one for you.

    Regular rapid coronavirus tests if you do not have symptoms 

    How to get LFT tests locally or to do at home

    Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests to check for coronavirus at a local test site or to do at home. Symptom-free staff and students can also continue to get tested at Bidborough House.

    Please see the NHS website to find your nearest test site or home test collection point, or to order tests to your home. 

    Once you receive your results, whether positive or negative, please report your results through the NHS and Connect to Protect, and  follow the steps listed below under ‘What happens when you get your LFT results’.

    Get tested locally or at home


    UCL’s testing centre at Bidborough House

    UCL is providing free COVID-19 tests for symptom-free students and staff who are required to work on campus as part of the national testing programme for universities. Appointments are available weekdays 8.30am–3.00pm. 

    If you have symptoms please do not book a test at Bidborough House – follow this guide (for students) or this guide (for staff) to request a test and let UCL know through Connect to Protect.

    Once you receive your results, whether positive or negative, please report them through Connect to Protect and follow the steps listed below under ‘What happens when you get your LFT results’.

    Take a tour of Bidborough House with Carol Paige, Democracy, Operations and Community Officer from Students’ Union UCL.

    YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64bjeuOmW4I

    Book a test at Bidborough House

    Booking form privacy statement

    The personal data you provide is being collected for the purpose of booking and managing your Asymptomatic COVID-19 Test. The information you provide will be used:

    – to record your booking and to send you text reminders of your appointment details
    – to send you text message reminders
    – to record your test result in UCL’s Connect to Protect tool. Through Connect to Protect, we can provide you with further advice and support if this is required.
    – in relation to age and disability information, to manage your appointment and ensure the necessary support and adjustments are made

    For more information on the way UCL handles your personal data, as well as our legal basis for processing it and your rights as a data subject, please see the UCL privacy notice relevant to your status at UCL: 
    Student Privacy Notice (in particular the section headed “Purposes for which we process your personal data and the legal bases for processing > To manage the student experience at UCL and/or Internal and statutory reporting and other legal obligations”).
    Staff Privacy Notice (in particular the section headed “Purposes for which we process your personal data and the legal bases for processing > To manage our relationship with you as a UCL staff member and/or Internal and statutory reporting, audit and other legal obligations”).

    Please note that once you arrive for your appointment you will be required to register through the NHS registration system, where you will be allocated with a test and an NHS barcode. UCL does not have access to this system and will not process your personal data as part of that procedure. Once your test has been administered, your result will be automatically uploaded onto the NHS system. For more information on how the Department of Health and Social Care processes your personal data as part of that process, please see their privacy notice

    The information you provide to book your test will only be shared with a restricted number of UCL staff members who require it as part of their role in managing the Asymptomatic testing service. The UCL staff who have access to your personal data will treat it in strict confidence. The personal data you provide will only be shared for the above purposes and will only be stored for as long as UCL requires it for these purposes, after which it will be deleted.

    About getting tested at Bidborough House

    Our testing centre at Bidborough House uses rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), which typically provide results within two hours. Once you receive your results, whether positive or negative, please follow the steps below and report it through UCL's Connect to Protect reporting tool.

      Where to go for your tests

      The testing centre is on the ground floor of Bidborough House at UCL. The address is: Bidborough House, 38-50 Bidborough Street, London, WC1H 9BT. Find Bidborough House on UCL Maps and Google Maps. Please access the building through the entrance on Mabledon Place. We are operating a one-way system and you will exit onto Bidborough Street.

      Bidborough House is accessible for wheelchair users. If you have any additional access needs, such as a BSL interpreter, please contact UCL's Student Support and Wellbeing team via askUCL or call +44 (0)20 7679 0100 before you book your test so we can make sure you have the support you need.

      If you need to travel to UCL, we encourage you to cycle or walk if you can. See our Cycle and Walk pages for more advice on getting to campus. If you’re using public transport, read the advice for safer travel from the UK Government and Transport for London. You might want to consider travelling at off-peak times, using quieter stations and booking tickets in advance or paying by contactless if you can. 

      What to expect at the testing centre 

      Please wear a face covering and remember to follow social distancing guidelines at the testing centre. You will also be asked to wash your hands with sanitiser when you get there.

      You should arrive at the testing centre via the entrance on Mabledon Place at your appointment time. Signage will direct you to where you need to go. You will be guided through the registration and testing process by members of the team. 

      What to bring
      • A form of student/staff ID
      • Your phone, tablet or laptop to register when you arrive (which involves scanning a QR code). If you do not have one of these then a staff member at the site will be on hand to help you.
        • Please do not register with an international phone number as this may be problematic when using the NHS Test and Trace service and delay your results. If you don't have a UK number then please register with your UCL email only, or alternatively you can request a free UK SIM card from the testing centre.   
      • A face covering or mask that covers your mouth and nose. Staff will tell you when you can take it off and put it back on again.

      Please don't bring luggage or bulky items with you, as we do not have space to store it while you take your test.

      What the process will involve
      • At registration, you will be asked to scan a QR code to register with the NHS Lateral Flow Testing programme.
      • You will be directed to an available booth where you will be provided with a swab and a barcode.
      • You will be asked to take a swab of your nose and throat. A trained member of staff will be on hand to help you.
      • A staff member will collect your sample and barcode from you.
      • You will then leave the testing centre through the exit onto Bidborough Street. 
      Infographic: How the tests work

      Infographic showing how LFT tests work

      What happens when you get your LFT results

      You will typically receive the results from the NHS within two hours via email and text, but this could take up to 48 hours. If you do not receive your results, or you need advice on your result, please call the NHS coronavirus testing contact centre on 119. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm. Please note that you are not able to call NHS 119 from an international number. Quote the barcode reference number from the registration card that you were given when you took the test and NHS Test and Trace should be able to locate their result using this code. You should go for your second test as planned. 

      Whether you have tested negative, positive or void it is important that you report your results through both the NHS Test & Trace site and UCL's Connect to Protect 

      If the results of your test are negative: 

      Please continue to follow the national restrictions and UCL Keeping Safe on Campus guidelines, and carry on getting tested twice a week. Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not display any symptoms, so by getting tested regularly you can help reduce the rate of infection.

      Please remember that Lateral Flow Tests don’t detect every positive case and your results only reflect your status at the time of taking the test.

      If the results of your test are positive and you are a student: 
      1. You and your household must self-isolate immediately. 
      2. You will have been asked by NHS Test and Trace to request a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus test through the NHS to confirm your LFT result. This must be done within two days of your LFT test. 
      3. In line with NHS guidance, if the PCR test confirms you are positive you and your household should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your LFT positive (for on-site LFTs) or from the date of the positive PCR (for home-kit LFTs).
      4. It is essential that you continue to report all your results through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating. You will also need to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone.

      More information about self-isolating is available on the NHS website

      The science behind self-isolating if you have coronavirus

      MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/aDJFcG2I

      If the results of your test are positive and you are a member of staff: 
      1. You and your household must self-isolate immediately. 
      2. You will have been asked by NHS Test and Trace to request a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) coronavirus test through the NHS to confirm your LFT result. This must be done within two days of your LFT test. 
      3. In line with NHS guidance, if the PCR test confirms you are positive you and your household should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your LFT positive (for on-site LFTs) or from the date of the positive PCR (for home-kit LFTs).
      4. You must immediately report your positive test results on Connect to Protect and notify your line manager so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating. You will also need to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone.
      5. If you receive your test result while in the workplace please make arrangements to travel home avoiding other people and public transport if you can. If you need help with your travel arrangements please discuss this with your line manager. If you do use public transport, wear a face covering, stay 2 metres apart from other people and avoid touching any surfaces. Use hand gel frequently throughout the journey and where possible avoid busier stations. Avoid touching your face or adjusting your face mask. Read more about travelling safely.
      6. Connect to Protect will notify anyone who is identified as a close contact and they should self-isolate.
      7. In line with NHS guidance you and everyone in your household should self-isolate from the day you get the result and for the next 10 full days. If a PCR test taken within two days of a positive LFT result comes back negative you, your household and close contacts can stop self-isolation.
      8. You will be asked to complete contact tracing details on the NHS website or by telephone. It is also essential that you report your PCR test result through Connect to Protect so UCL can provide you with support while you’re self-isolating and follow up with any UCL contacts.
      9. If you have any questions please email the UCL Covid Helpline or call on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Please let us know when you have recovered if you develop symptoms and do stay in touch if you need any help.

      More guidance and frequently asked questions

      Guidance for contracted staff and staff or students working onsite away from campus or out of hours

      Guidance for UCL and contracted staff working on campus:

      All UCL and all contracted staff within Estates and other services who are working on campus, and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms, are expected to get tested twice a week. Due to the rapid nature of these tests, please bear in mind where you will be when you receive your results, and how you plan to travel home. Ideally you should walk or cycle if possible. If you are a staff member it may be preferable to book a test at the end of your shift, so that you will receive your result when you are at home.

      Contracted staff who can access the LFT testing centre at Bidborough House should contact their line manager for more information.

      Staff or students working onsite away from campus or our of hours

      We recognise that many of our staff that are required to work on-site are not based at the Main campus, or within close proximity of Bidborough House.

      All staff and students that are unable to attend Bidborough House due to being located at a different site (e.g. Royal Free, HereEast, MSSL and others) or due to working outside of regular opening hours, are encouraged to test twice a week by collecting/ordering rapid Lateral Flow tests or via UCL’s PCR service ia UCL’s PCR service in partnership with Health Services Laboratories (HSL)

      Frequently asked questions

      If I receive a positive LFT result, do I need to get a confirmatory PCR test?

      For information on how to interpret your test result, please see “what happens when you get your LFT results”.

      Can visitors to campus get tested for COVID-19 at UCL?

      No, visitors cannot access UCL's testing service. Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests to check for coronavirus at a local test site or to do at home. Please see the NHS website for more information.

      If I tested positive within the past 90 days, do I need to take an LFT test?

      If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days through NHS Test and Trace and been recorded as a positive case on the national system, you do not need to be tested again within that time period if you are asymptomatic. You are still required to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive case, even if this is within the 90 day window. You must also request a PCR test from the NHS if you develop new COVID-19 symptoms.

      How might Government ‘surge testing’ impact UCL?

      Surge testing is the term used to describe an increase in symptom-free testing and contact tracing activity, as a result of the identification of a COVID-19 variant or mutation of concern. It does not necessarily mean a surge in overall COVID-19 cases. The implementation of surge testing is being led at the Local Authority level, and is linked to the post code where you are currently living. It is therefore important to follow your Local Authority guidelines about if, when and how to get tested. If you’ve recently spent time within one of the areas targeted for surge testing but do not live there, you should continue to follow the national restrictions and check with your local authority whether you should get a test. You can view the latest Government information on areas that are undergoing surge testing here.

      Should I continue with symptom-free testing after receiving the COVID vaccination?

      Yes. Staff and students that are on campus should continue with routine symptom-free testing after they are vaccinated.

      Could the vaccine give me a positive lateral flow device or PCR test result?

      No. The vaccine is not known to interfere with the lateral flow device (LFD) or PCR tests. Therefore if you receive a positive result, it is very likely that you have the COVID-19 infection.

      Where can I find out more about LFTs

      If you need support

      Students can contact us though the askUCL student enquiries system. Alternatively you can email covidhelpline@ucl.ac.uk and if you would like to speak to someone on the phone, please call our helpline on 0203 108 5699. Lines are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

      If you are staying in UCL halls, our Accommodation team can help. Find out more on the UCL Accommodation website or email or phone your hall team.