Coronavirus: Used COVID tests mistakenly handed out to students in Birmingham

Used coronavirus tests have mistakenly been handed out to students in Birmingham, authorities in the city have confirmed.

Some pupils living in the Selly Oak area are said to have found used swabs when they opened their testing kits.

Sophie Dunne, a University of Birmingham student, reportedly told student newspaper Redbrick that several people had told council workers about it.

More than 300 students at the university have already tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, Birmingham City Council revealed that “seven houses and 25 kits” were involved, and that the circumstances surrounding the incident were being “fully reviewed and any required changes to process will be implemented”.

It said: “We are aware that a small number of tests were mistakenly given out during Drop and Collect activity in Selly Oak yesterday.

“We want to reassure residents that none of these tests were reused and while the outer packaging on one was opened, the inner pack containing the swab remained sealed and secure, so there is no risk of contamination.

“The team was alerted within five minutes that the wrong tests had been given out and steps were taken immediately to rectify the mistake.

“Drop and Collect is a vital part of helping to tackle the spread of COVID in our city, with around 100,000 tests being undertaken to date.”

Birmingham is in Tier 2 of the government’s new three-tier lockdown system, meaning households are not allowed to meet indoors.

It comes as the Birmingham branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has threatened a ballot for strike action if face-to-face teaching is not moved online to help avoid the further spread of coronavirus.

It has warned that lessons on campus are “putting the health and safety of staff, students, and the local community, at risk”.

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A University of Birmingham spokeswoman said: “We are extremely disappointed that UCU have decided to declare a dispute before the agreed procedures to try and reach a resolution have been exhausted.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is our priority and our campus unions, including UCU, have attended weekly meetings with the university through the summer to discuss the institution’s plans and all building COVID risk assessments were shared with the unions to review.”

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