Council hands out USED Covid testing swab kits by mistake to students

Used Covid nasal swabs are handed out to students by council workers as part of Birmingham’s local testing scheme

  • Students in Selly Oak were mistakenly given used Covid-19 testing kits Tuesday 
  • Tests handed out as part of Birmingham City Council’s ‘drop and collect’ service
  • Council confirmed error involved seven house but said only one kit was opened

Around 25 used coronavirus swab tests were mistakenly handed out to students yesterday as part of a local testing scheme.   

Those in Selly Oak, Birmingham are worried they may have contracted the disease after they opened the boxes to discover sealed bags inside.

Birmingham City Council carried out an investigations overnight, which found there was ‘no evidence of cross-contamination’ as part of the mistake, the BBC reports.    

A spokeswoman added the error involved seven houses and only the outer packaging of one kit was opened. 

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

The tests were handed out as part of Birmingham City Council’s ‘drop and collect’ service, which is aimed at areas with high rates of infection.  

Under the scheme, volunteers visit households to offer tests on the doorstep before returning an hour later to collect the completed kits.   

Around 100 military personnel are working with Birmingham City Council on the initiative, but it was confirmed today that they were not involved in the error.  

News of the mistake emerged on Tuesday when a Birmingham University student warned others on a community Facebook page about the mistake. 

She wrote: ‘Anyone on [Tiverton Road] given a Covid test by guys in high-vis jackets, don’t open! 

Birmingham City Council told the BBC there is 'no evidence of cross-contamination' to the 25 students who were given used kits

Birmingham City Council told the BBC there is ‘no evidence of cross-contamination’ to the 25 students who were given used kits

‘They’ve already been done – we opened up the box and they were sealed and snapped so had obviously been used!’ 

Another student, Sophie Dunne, told university paper Redbrick several students emerged from their homes to alert council workers to the mistake.

She claims they were told ‘not to put it on social media.’ 

Ms Dunne said officials returned five minutes later to collect the Covid-19 tests, but not until one kit had been opened by her housemate.

Birmingham is currently a tier two area under the three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions which came into force across England today.   

The city, which has 167.4 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, will face the crackdown on socialising between households alongside Greater Manchester and the North East.   

Those under ‘high’ alert are prohibited from meeting those outside their household or ‘bubble’ indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.    

A council spokesperson 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.

‘The circumstances around this incident – which involved seven houses and 25 kits – is being fully reviewed and any required changes to process will be implemented.’