Students have reported having to wait as long as 52 hours to receive their Rapid Response coronavirus test results, despite the University claiming that they would be received within 24 hours.
An initial press release from the University claimed “those participants who take tests in the morning will receive same day results, participants in the afternoon will receive results the next day.”
The University of Exeter announced their partnership with Halo in the provision of saliva-based coronavirus tests at the beginning of September.
They are Halo’s first customer for the tests, with the company reportedly in talks with other potential partners.
The Rapid Response Hub was set up for students, alongside staff members to report symptoms and request a test.
Following multiple communications with Rapid Response, the student was advised to take another test
One second year Business student explained to us how they took their test on 27 September and when they had not received their results within the advertised 24-hour period, emailed and rang Rapid Response several times with no response.
Four days later they ended up messaging Halo directly through their website to be told that they had tested positive. The student explained “I’m symptomless as well, so I could’ve been walking around infecting everyone if I hadn’t chosen to isolate regardless.”
Another second year student said “the University’s half was great but was really let down by Halo’s promise of 24 hour results.” They felt the organising of the test through the Rapid Response hub was “easy and very efficient” but they had to wait over 50 hours for the result to come through.
A second year German and Russian student explained they received two results back after taking one test; one positive and the other negative. The student was told that their first test may have been checked twice but that they should only have received one result back.
Following multiple communications with Rapid Response, the student was advised to take another test. They explained “I had the results come through for the second test, which was a swab test as opposed to a saliva test, and the result was conclusively positive.” Their swab test result took 28 hours to come through.
Despite Halo promising a written explanation for why two results were received, the student is yet to hear anything.
Exeposé asked Halo if test result times were conditioned by positive and negative outcomes, but they informed us that their quality control standards sometimes require reanalysing a sample.
I don’t think the Uni should advertise the Rapid Response claiming that they provide results within 24 hours when clearly they do not!Anonymous third year History student
One postgraduate student informed us that “the test itself was fine and the paramedic was very helpful.” They were told the outcome of the test would be made available within 24-36 hours, but had to wait over 50 hours before receiving their result.
They stated “whether this was because it was the weekend, I don’t know, but still it is not very impressive.”
Additionally, a third year History student explained to us that they were contacted with less than one hours notice for their appointment, “thank God I checked my emails often and had my car, otherwise I am not sure I would have made it.”
This student’s result also took over 50 hours to come through, and they added “I don’t think the Uni should advertise the Rapid Response claiming that they provide results within 24 hours when clearly they do not!”
Not all students have experienced delayed wait times, however, with one saying “I’ve had a good experience and am very grateful for the service as we’re so lucky to have it.”
A second year Medical student explained they took their test on 28 September and got their results back in less than 24 hours. However, their test was not taken at home and instead they had to walk from St Luke’s campus on Heavitree Road to the Sports Park on Streatham Campus.
The organising of the test through the Rapid Response hub was “easy and very efficient”Anonymous second year student
In an email sent on 2 October by Registrar Mike Shore-Nye, students were informed that “[the University’s] data has shown that demand for tests is rising in Exeter.”
It continues: “therefore we have invited the national Test and Trace scheme to set up a temporary Testing Centre on the Streatham campus dedicated to Exeter students and staff.
“This will allow us to focus our Halo resources on some targeted testing, and also to allow us to develop a process to enable staff family testing, which many of you have asked us to consider.”
A University spokesperson suggested that the delays may have come from issues setting this up alongside Halo.
A Halo spokesperson said “Halo has been working alongside the University of Exeter to roll out our convenient and sensitive COVID-19 saliva test to supplement the testing capacity of public health authorities.
“In the course of ramping up testing in order to meet rapidly increasing demand, we very much regret that some students had to wait longer than expected to receive their test results.
“Reasons for delay included machine fault leading to a small number of erroneous samples and a courier error beyond Halo’s control.
“Halo has moved urgently to rectify these issues so that Exeter students can continue to use Halo with confidence.”
From the data provided by Public Health England, the Registrar email said that of the 78 cases in Exeter “most of those are from the University.”