A PILOT scheme to trial new Covid-19 testing technology is being carried out at a university in the region with one of the highest number of cases among students in the country.

A total number of 1,745 cases of coronavirus have been reported to Durham University as of October 22, with 377 cases were reported over the last week, including nine staff.

Now the university has been invited to take part in the Lateral Flow Test, new technology to help identify those most at risk of spreading the virus, those who are infectious but are not aware, to enable them to alter their behaviour.

The test aims to identify whether an individual has ‘sufficient viral load,’ or high enough levels of the Covid-19 virus in their body, to make them infectious to others, although they may appear asymptomatic.

Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Durham University, said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Durham University has acted with the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the communities of which we are part as our top priority, and we will continue to do so.

“We have liaised closely with local and national partners and student leaders to ensure that our involvement is in the best interests of our students, staff and our county and region’s effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

Staff and students will receive training in how to take the test, process the test and read the result.

The test involves applying a swab to the throat and nose.

The sample is processed by the user, on-site, and the results are available in 20 to 30 minutes.

Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s director of public health, said: “We have a wide range of actions in place, which are being overseen by the Outbreak Control Team, including access to testing and the training of key staff to support the outbreak.

“We hope this new testing will add an additional element to our existing outbreak control and help to reduce the number of cases, not just within the university, but also the local community.

“I’d encourage everyone to please book a test and stay at home if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.”