Frequently Asked Questions | Covid-19 asymptomatic testing

Lateral Flow antigen tests are a new kind of technology that could be used to test a higher proportion of asymptomatic people (those who are infectious, but not aware of this). This would better enable the Government/NHS Test and Trace to identify asymptomatic people who are at high likelihood of spreading the virus and break the chain of transmission. The technology has already been validated – clinical testing phases are all complete and the Government has been rolling out different field tests and pilots to identify how to best use this new technology at scale.

Lateral Flow antigen tests detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing a visual positive or negative result dependant on the presence of the virus. 

The test currently more commonly used in the NHS is the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. These can take longer to produce a result - approximately 24 to 48 hours. The lateral flow testing being used at USW at the end of term, will be able to provide a result in approximately one hour. Anyone who has a positive test result from the lateral flow test will be required to book an NHS (PCR) test to confirm the test result. These are readily available to all individuals showing symptoms of Covid-19. You can book an NHS test here

Research suggest that the current Lateral Flow test has been found to have high specificity but with slightly lower sensitivity i.e. potential to miss some Covid-19 positive cases. Therefore, the two tests conducted close to each other are a measure to pick up any infection that was missed in the first round or newly developed infections.

Any student at the University of South Wales can book an appointment for an asymptomatic Covid-19 test.  You should book your first test as close as possible to the date you are returning to your term-time address. If you commute to university from home, you are also able to access testing, and you are particularly encouraged to do so if you are returning to campus for face-to-face learning.  

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, please do not attend the USW asymptomatic testing centres. Please book an NHS test in the usual way.  

There are three testing centres - one at each of our campuses:

  • Cardiff  - Students’ Union - first floor, Cardiff Campus, 86-88 Adam Street, Cardiff, CF24 2FN
  • Newport - First floor food refectory, B Floor, Newport Campus, Usk Way, NP20 2BP
  • Pontypridd - Eclipse Nightclub, Students’ Union Building, Treforest Campus, Llantwit Road, Treforest, Pontypridd, CF37 1DL

You can book a testing appointment here. Appointments can be booked at the location most convenient for you. 

Once you have booked your appointment, you will receive a confirmation with the date and time of your appointment. 

Important: The Lateral Flow test is only for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms. If you have symptoms, or develop symptoms before your appointment, you’ll need to self-isolate and book an NHS test. Please do not attend your appointment for a lateral flow test, if you have symptoms. 

When you arrive at your appointment, you will be guided through registration and the testing process by the on-site support staff. Please make sure that you bring with you:

  • A form of ID, such as your student ID card, passport or driving licence.
  • Your phone, tablet or laptop. If you do not have one of these then a staff member at the site will help you.
  • A face covering or mask, which you should only remove when you are taking the swabs for the test.

You’ll need to follow social distancing by staying at least two metres from other people at the test site, including staff, and wearing a face covering or mask.

When you arrive for your appointment, you will need to register your test online before you take the test. This is why you will need to bring a phone, tablet or laptop with you. If you need help with registering, please ask the site staff. They’ll help you while maintaining social distancing. 

The test is self-administered so you will then be shown how to take the test swabs, and you will be given the kit, so that you can take your own swabs. Our on-site support staff will be there to help show you what to do.

The entire process should take no more than 15 minutes.

Results should be available within approximately one hour in most cases, although it can take more than this during busy periods.  

You will receive your results via the SMS and / or email that you provide during the registration process, to let you know if your test showed a positive, negative or inconclusive result.  

Students who receive a positive test result will need to self-isolate and book an NHS test to confirm the positive result. If the NHS (PCR) test is positive, you will need to continue self-isolating for 10 days and all of your close contacts, including your household will need to self-isolate for 10 days. The NHS Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) team will also then contact you to identify any other close contacts that you may have had. 

You will also need to let the University know if you have received a positive result by completing this online form. If you live in the University’s halls of residence in Treforest, please also let the Accommodation Office know if you have had a positive test result by phoning 01443 482845. They can provide optional catered meal plans or an essential items food parcel, mail delivery and refuse collection. 


If you receive a negative test result, you should book a second test for three days later. 

 In between the two tests, you are encouraged to lay low. This means not mixing with other people as much as possible.   

Please remember, a negative test result does not mean you have not been exposed to Covid-19 recently as the virus can incubate for up to two weeks before you develop symptoms. Please continue to be vigilant – socially distancing, wearing a face covering, regularly washing/sanitising your hands, and following all of the safety measures that are in place at our USW campuses. 

A person who is a close contact of a person who tests positive, such as a member of the same household, must self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. Even if you have a test and it is negative you must still self-isolate for 10 days. This is because you are close contact of someone who has Covid-19 and the virus can take time to show in your system.   

No, if you do not have any symptoms of Covid-19, it is entirely voluntary for you to take part in this pilot mass testing. However, all students are encouraged to take part in the testing to help keep each other safe. 

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, then you must self-isolate immediately, and book an NHS Covid-19 test.  


If you have had a positive NHS Wales (PCR) test in the last ten days, then please self-isolate and do not attend for a lateral flow test at USW.

 Public Health Wales also advises that if you have had a positive NHS Wales (PCR) test in the last 90 days then you are also advised not to have a lateral flow test as you could return a positive test even though you may not be infectious. If within those 90 days, you develop new symptoms, then you should self-isolate and book an NHS Wales Covid-19 test.


The University has sought advice for students from the Muslim Council of Wales and the British Islamic Medical Association. Their advice is that taking the Covid-19 PCR or lateral flow tests does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan. See further information here.


If you would like to discuss this further with the Chaplaincy Imam please contact the Chaplaincy on 01443 654060 or [email protected]