STUDENTS in Wales are being urged to take new coronavirus tests before returning home for Christmas.

Education minister Kirsty Williams is asking university students to take the new rapid tests ahead of leaving for the festive break - but said they would not be forced to do so.

Ms Williams asked students to consider their own "risk assessment" before they leave Wales.

She told the Senedd’s children, young people and education committee she is confident there is enough testing capacity to meet the student demand as mass testing facilities will open at universities.

“We cannot force students or compel students to take an asymptomatic test, but all students need to think about their own risk and their own risk assessment about where they are returning and to whom they are returning,” Ms Williams told the committee.

“Testing can play an important part of providing extra reassurance, especially for those students who feel that they’re going home to potentially a vulnerable family circumstance.

“It’s difficult to ascertain what the demand will be, and we are aware of some anecdotal evidence that some students may be reluctant to actually take an asymptomatic test.


“But at this stage I am not concerned about the fact that we will have more students wanting tests than we are able to deliver at this point.”

The majority of in-person lessons will end in the week leading up to December 8, which will allow time for students who test positive to quarantine and still be home for Christmas Eve.

Students will be asked to minimise their social contact with others in the run up to the end of term.

They will also be urged to follow Welsh Government guidelines, with no-one travelling if they have symptoms, a positive test or if they have been asked to self-isolate by a contact tracer.

Ms Williams said there had been a “significant” fall in transmission rates at higher education institutions since the start of the new academic year and she praised the work carried out by the universities, students and local health boards.

“It also then boils down to the individual students themselves who are making really good choices and taking all the measures that they can,” she said.

“We are seeing a significant drop in cases associated with universities.”

Ms Williams told the committee that in the further education sector, Public Health Wales data shows there were 381 cases of staff or students testing positive for Covid-19 from September 1 to November 18, but it was possible to determine transmission location.