Reports suggest that the University of Exeter “was forced” by the Government to stop using its own COVID-19 testing system, and instead use the national system.
Exeposé previously reported that some students had to wait over 50 hours to receive their test results, with the University suggesting that this was caused by setting up the national system alongside Halo.
It follows the loss of nearly 16,000 test results after Public Health England used a Microsoft Excel template, described by the BBC as “badly thought-out.”
Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, revealed the reports on Twitter, saying: “If true, this is an absolute scandal which put thousands of students and the rest of my constituents at avoidable risk.”
A Registrar email on 2 October said that the University “invited the national Test and Trace scheme to set up a temporary Testing Centre on the Streatham campus dedicated to Exeter students and staff.”
It continued: “this will allow us to focus our Halo resources on some targeted testing.”
The Department of Health and Social Care neither confirmed nor denied the reports, and referred to the official lines on Higher Education.
A spokesperson said: “We work closely with local leaders and public health teams to inform decisions on local interventions, taking into account a range of factors.”
“We discuss measures with local Directors of Public Health and local authorities, constantly reviewing the evidence and we will take swift targeted action where necessary.”
The current PHE data shows 350 cases in Exeter over the last week, with “most of those cases” being from the University.
The University banned students from mixing households for two weeks from 28 September, after cases spiked at the start of the month.
A University spokesperson said: “We invited the national Test and Trace scheme to set up a temporary Testing Centre on the Streatham campus to provide additional capacity for Exeter students and staff.
“We are in constant dialogue with local Public Health teams and PHE and we agreed that the mobile testing unit could help increase capacity and benchmark against other areas.
“Halo continues to be part of our testing options and all organisations are working together to respond to the needs of students and staff.”