An Aberdeen University medical student unable to return home this Christmas has given up her time to help staff at a new testing centre so others can be reunited with loved ones.
Lily Delamare, a fourth year microbiology student, has decided it is too risky to travel home to her family in France this Christmas and as a result has volunteered her time and skills to ensure others on campus will not miss out.
The 21-year old said it was important to give families “peace of mind” and ensure her fellow students do not bring the virus home to those most vulnerable to Covid-19.
The testing centre is housed in the Butchart building in the centre of the Aberdeen campus and opened yesterday.
Ms Delamare said: “I think it is important because some students will go home to family where they might put people at risk.
“As students we have jobs and classes where we are exposed to a lot of people so it’s good to be able to make sure families are safe.
“I’m not going to travel home this Christmas as I don’t want to put my family at risk. I would have to travel a lot to get home.
“The university got in contact looking for testing assistants and they put the call out to medical students first.
“Most of us have experience in a lab or a clinical setting, so we’re happy to help.”
Aberdeen University principle, George Boyne, described the new testing centre as a “super achievement” by all staff and students involved.
More than 500 people volunteered to get the flagship testing centre off the ground – with many Aberdeen University medical students joining Ms Delamare in stepping-up to provide their expertise.
The new facility is to carry out up to 16,000 tests, which equates to two per student.
Mr Boyne said: “Over a period of two weeks we’ve gone from having nothing to a home testing centre up and running.
“We’re confident this will provide significant mitigation against the risk of Covid-19 as students travel home for Christmas.”
Mr Boyne also said he’d like to undertake a second run of the testing drive in January to ensure students don’t bring the virus back with them.
He said: “We’d like to do this again when students return.
“We’re waiting for confirmation from the Scottish Government, but we think that’s a sensible element and a precaution that we’d like to take.”
Scottish minister for education and science, Richard Lochhead, visited the testing centre yesterday and said: “It’s really impressive to see this testing centre up and running to offer asymptomatic tests on a voluntary basis to students here in Aberdeen who are choosing to go home for Christmas.
“It is a big help to the country’s efforts to tackle Covid-19.
“No one wanted to be in this position, but we’re trying to keep our students educated and have all the opportunities they can against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
“It’s been awe inspiring to see the university students and staff get this testing centre up and running at very short notice.”