Used coronavirus tests handed out to students in Birmingham

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RAF personnel in Selly Oak, close to the University of Birmingham, assisting with Birmingham City Council's 'Drop and Collect' coronavirus test distribution

Used coronavirus swab tests were accidentally given out to households in Birmingham, council officials said.

Birmingham City Council said about 25 kits were given out by mistake in the student area of Selly Oak as part of its “drop-and-collect” service.

It said the error was quickly realised, the kits remained intact and there was no evidence of cross-contamination.

Second year student Tasha Ashbridge reported on the community Facebook page that people in hi-vis jackets handed them testing kits that were ‘sealed and snapped’ already, with students in affected houses saying ‘some had people’s names and addresses on the tests bags.’ 

However, student Sophie Dunne, who was given a used kit, said some people had opened and used the testing kits.

Ms Dunne said she was approached by council workers at her home in Tiverton Road who she said wanted to give her a free kit because the area was “high risk”.

This just adds to public mistrust and fear

There are 237 Covd-19 cases currently in Selly Oak and neighbouring Edgbaston South and University wards, making them two of the worst hotspots in the city.

Ms Dunne said she was told to complete the test within 15 minutes and the team would then return to collect it.

“The boxes… were sealed packages with test tubes and swabs inside which had already been snapped off, so obviously it had been used,” she said.

Fortunately, the girls made the discovery before using the kit and alerted the council workers who told Sophie they “had no idea” what had happened. “When I went back to them there were loads of people at their doors saying the same thing”, she told The Birmingham Tab.

However, it was claimed on the student’s Facebook page that another student and his housemates weren’t so lucky, using the sealed kits they were given to self-test for coronavirus, the girls claim.

Tasha Ashbridge told The Birmingham Tab: “It was obviously a mix up as they went door to door collecting them when I told them but some students had already opened the kits by then.”

It remains unclear what caused the chaos, although Sophie claims she was told by council workers that they were given the “seemingly new packages externally to distribute.

“I would have at least thought the workers would have been advised what packaging was supposed to look like in event of tampering or contamination”, she told The Birmingham Tab.

The tests were quickly recollected, although, according to Sophie, students “weren’t given any info on what to do as obviously all the tests had been mixed up.”

The girls were clearly shaken by the mistake, describing it as “such a scary thing to happen”.

Other students have also reported receiving these COVID-19 home testing kits across the past few weeks, although until today no issues had been reported.

This is so shocking and confusing.

Steph de Clercq, a final year Law with Criminology student said: ‘this is so shocking and confusing, how are we meant to know who and what we can trust.’

This incident comes in the wake of the announcement this week that the Birmingham area was to be allocated the ‘high’ category in the new lockdown regulations set out by the government, meaning that all household mixing indoors is forbidden, and mixing outdoors must abide by social distancing guidelines and the ‘rule of six.’

BBC and Media crews walked down the street filming and giving tests to students.

BBC News giving covid test out to students Image Birmingham Tad

Students on Heeley Road claim they were approached by BBC News and camera crews along with members of the army, they were accompanied by other journalists from Birmingham Mail. The media clealy used the situation to pitch for a story giving out tests to residents telllingf them they had 30 minutes to complete, after which residents were interviewed and filmed about their response to new coronavirus restrictions.

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