COVID-19 Testing NHS

The University has set up an in-house Early Alert testing service. If it is unable to serve Oxford University people at any point, those worried about symptoms should use the NHS testing service. However, the NHS testing service will take a great deal longer than the Oxford University service, both to arrange a test and to get the results, so please use the OU one if at all possible.

How to book

As soon as you have possible symptoms, visit the NHS get a test page.

Book a home test kit, and arrange for it to be delivered to one of the staffed Balliol Lodges if you live in College accommodation. If you live out, have it delivered to your house. 

(If you have waited for more than 4 days since symptoms first appeared, you will not be able to use a home test kit. Unfortunately it is then difficult to get a test unless you have a car and drive yourself to the testing site at Oxford Parkway.)

For any other medical issues please consult NHS advice by phoning 111 and for test issues phone 119.

You must self-isolate while waiting for the test and results. So must the rest of your household, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

Timeline and process for home testing

1. Tests are delivered at least 24 hours later. If you book during a morning, it is possible that the test will be delivered the next day. However, if you book in the afternoon or evening it is more likely it will be delivered 48 hours later.

2. For those living in, the test will be delivered to the Lodge you nominated by courier. You need to arrange for a friend to collect the test and bring it to your household space. The porters will not ferry tests to rooms.

3. If you are able to do the test on a weekday or before 11am on a Saturday, you can return the test using a Royal Mail Priority postbox.  The Broad Street postbox opposite College is a Priority box (last posting time 5.30pm weekdays and 12 noon Saturday). So are the boxes at Carfax and the St Aldate’s Post Office (equivalent times 6.30pm/12 noon) and the box beside Mansfield College on Mansfield Road (6.30pm/11.30am). Other boxes elsewhere in Oxford can be found by visiting the ‘Services Near You’ page on the Royal Mail website and entering your postcode (make sure to tick the ‘show my nearest priority postboxes’ box). 

4. If you have to do the test at a weekend after 11.00am Saturday, or on a bank holiday, you might be better booking a courier to collect your swab. If you receive your test before 4.00pm on the day it arrives, go to the Royal Mail collections page to book its collection. You will need the 8-character serial number on the test kit. You cannot book collection until you have this number, and the booking website does not operate between 4.00pm and 8.00am. If your test is delivered after 4.00pm, then you can only make the return booking the next day, and cannot do the test until 24 hours after that so you may be able to post it anyway. 

5. Whichever method you are using to return it, wait until one hour before collection or posting to take the test, and you should only take it if the postbox you intend to use still has not passed its last posting time for the day.  If you miss this chance, wait until the next postal day. If you take it early the sample will deteriorate and the results will be invalid. While you are waiting to do the test you will find it useful to watch the NHS video and to check that you understand all the items in the test package. You can also find guidance in the NHS information booklet. 

6. For those using collection, you may have the test collected any time from 8.00am so be ready to do it early. The NHS should email or text to tell you a one-hour collection slot, but this message may not reach you until 7.30am on collection day. If you live in and are having the sample collected, inform the Lodge of your collection slot as soon as you get it. 

7. If you are posting your sample, please ask a friend to be ready to take it to the post as soon as you have finished packing the swab. 

8. With clean hands, make up the return box, do the test, package up the swab and ask your friend to post it straight away or (if a courier is booked) to take it to the Lodge without delay.  Samples which will collected by a courier or from the postbox that day do not need to be refrigerated. 

When do results arrive?

Your test results may not arrive for several days and will be sent by email (or possibly text). If your results are positive you and the rest of your household must continue self-isolating as per government guidelines, and you are likely to be called by NHS Test and Trace to discuss your recent close contacts. If your results are negative you and your household can immediately stop self-isolating. 

Please tell the Lodge the results of your test as soon as you get them.

14 September 2020 Rev 2.3

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