The man spearheading a mammoth Covid-19 testing effort at Aberdeen Univerity said the project will give students “the best possible chance” of getting home virus-free this Christmas.
Duncan Stuart, head of student experience at the university, said more than 500 people had put themselves forward in the drive to test as many students as possible before they travel to meet family and loved ones.
Around 300 staff and students were ultimately selected during a breakneck two-week challenge to create an on-campus coronavirus testing centre – with many Aberdeen University medical students stepping up to provide their expertise.
Mr Stuart said the new centre will be “ready to go” on Monday morning.
He said: “It would be fair to say it’s been a real challenge, we’ve only really had just under two weeks to build a facility from scratch and to work in parallel with the Scottish Government to ensure it’s fit for purpose and as safe as possible – but I’m pleased to say we’re almost there.
“We should be ready to use the facility over the weekend for staff training, then good to go on Monday.
“We decided that one of the opportunities we should take advantage of was our medical school, where we’ve got world-class medical facilities.
“Those students will be doing the testing with our clinical team and we’ve got a mix of staff and students who’ve volunteered to help out with the non-clinical side of things and recording the results to submit them back to the government.”
The new centre is set up to carry out up to 16,000 tests, which is two per student.
Organisers are also working with the Scottish Government to see what additional testing they might be able to offer those who are staying over the festive period.
Mr Stuart said: “The message we want students to take away is that, if you’re asymptomatic and you’re looking for that reassurance before you go home to your family, the test will tell within half-an-hour whether or not you have the virus.
“Public Health Scotland will then notify those students automatically via email or text the same day.
“Each person should do two tests, one initially and then one just before they leave for Christmas, to protect them and their families.”
Robert Gordon University also confirmed that it will be opening a testing site at the Sir Ian Wood building on Monday – with capacity for up to 3,500 students.
A spokesman for the university said: “The aim of this testing, which will be voluntary and completely anonymous, is to provide reassurance that returning students have been tested twice before they leave on vacation.
“The tests are intended only for students who live in Aberdeen during the semester and who will be returning to their home address elsewhere.”
The University of the Highlands and Islands also said it was working to offer voluntary Covid-19 testing to the “small number of students in our partnership who will be travelling home from their term-time address this Christmas”.