Norwich Testing Initiative

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This page is no longer active. If you are a university or institute looking to develop your own asymptomatic COVID testing programme, visit our Resources and Methods page for more information.

This page is for NRP staff and students (which includes UEA) who wish to participate in the Norwich Testing Initiative: a SARS-CoV-2 large scale screening pilot.

The pilot begins on Monday July 27.

If you are not a staff member or student working on NRP, and have any questions, please direct them to and

Staff and students, please direct any questions to

For Participants:

On this website you will find all the information required to complete the trial testing, including:

  • Step-by-step guide: registration through to completion
  • Collecting testing kits
  • Registering your swabs
  • Taking swabs
  • Labelling and packaging swabs
  • Dropping off swabs
  • Checking your results

We recommend you read through this information before beginning the registration process.

Here are links to the privacy notice and a copy of the consent form.

PLEASE NOTE: Please REGISTER BY Sunday 19 July via the link in the email you received. We also require a small cohort to participate in a pre-trial beginning on Monday 20 July. Please indicate your availability as such on the registration form. You would need to be available on Friday 17 July to pick up testing kits.

Once you have registered and validated your participant account, you can log in to your account via the link you received in the email.

If you have any questions about the process, which you cannot find here, please email:

Step by Step Guide: registration through to completion of trial

  • To Register to participate:
  • You will first need to sign up for an account via the link in the email
  • Upon signing up, you will be asked to create a username (Please note that while we encrypt all of your identifiable data your username will not be encrypted in our database. We therefore encourage you not to use your email address or anything that is identifiable to you) and password (minimum 8 characters; at least one number, one capital letter, one lower case letter, no special characters)
  • You will also be asked for your phone number - this is important in case we need to contact you regarding a positive result
  • You must authenticate your account, so look out for the verification email and check your spam folder
  • Log in to your account (if you enter your password or username wrong five times you will be locked out, so it is easier to just reset your password or ask for a username reminder if you have forgotten your details)
  • Choose booking slots for return of your swab samples by clicking on the “bookings” tab at the top left of your screen. Once you have made your bookings you can sign out of your account at the top right of your screen.
  • You will then need to collect your testing kit (instructions on the next tab on this page, titled "collecting your testing kit")
  • Before you take your first swab, you will need to login to your account and link your participant ID (6-character alphabetical code).This is located on each barcode supplied in your sample kits. You will only need to do this once.
  • Return your swabs on the days and time slots you have booked at the location you have specified.
  • Look out for the notification email to check when your results have been uploaded

Watch this video to find out more.

Collecting your testing kit

For those selected for the pre-trial on Monday 20 July

Please pick up your testing kit on Friday July 17 from Earlham Institute. You will collect all four of the swabs you need to complete the trial.

For everybody else

All testing kits (containing all four swabs) will be available for collection from Earlham Institute (EI). Visitors can park on the grass 'overflow parking' next to Centrum and then walk down to EI. Samples are being handed out from the Jane Rogers Seminar Room.

Please check this map before you arrive so that you know where to go. The Jane Rogers Seminar Room is just to the left of the main entrance as you approach the EI building from the car park.

Collection points will be accessible between: 09:30-15:30

You will pick up all of the swabs you will need to complete the trial, along with information on how to return them safely and properly labelled - which you can also find on the next tab.

Collection information

If your surname begins with A, B, C or D - please pick up your testing kit on Monday 20 July.

If your surname begins with E, F, G, H or I - please pick up your testing kit on Tuesday 21 July.

If your surname begins with J, K, L, M or N - please pick up your testing kit on Wednesday 22 July.

If your surname begins with O, P, Q, R, S, T - please pick up your testing kit on Thursday 23 July.

If your surname begins with U, V, W, X, Y or Z - please pick up your testing kit on Friday 24th July.

Important notes

Please pick up your swabs and leave swiftly thereafter.

It is important that we maintain strict social distancing and a steady flow, both to ensure safety and to avoid a potential build up of traffic.

Please give yourself plenty of time to collect your swabs and try not to leave it until just before the collection point closes.

By collecting and using the testing kit, participants accept responsibility for undertaking the self-swabs following the guidance provided.

Registering your swabs

It is very important that you link your swabs to your registration.

BEFORE YOU TAKE YOUR FIRST SWAB, you should log into your account.

You will see that there are two barcode labels in each box you received. Each barcode label contains two codes. One code is your Sample ID, for the processing of the sample in the lab, the other is your Participant ID.

You should enter your Participant ID, which is the 6-character, alphabetical ID, e.g. LEXKWD, in the box provided on your account.

When your Partipant ID has been accepted, it will appear in the "your profile" section at the top of the webpage.

You will only need to do this once, as this is identical for all four of your swabs.

Taking swabs

Watch the video again to make sure you are familiar with the process of taking a self-swab.

Labelling and packaging swabs

  1. Once you have taken your swab, and placed it in the sample tube, close the lid securely.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser.
  3. Place one of your barcode labels from your kit along the length of the tube. This is important as it will ensure that the barcode is easily readable when the sample reaches the lab.
  4. The tube should be placed inside the griplock bag, which should contain an absorbent sheet.
  5. Seal the bag.
  6. Place this bag within the leak-proof Safety Bag, which is clearly labelled with ‘Biological substance category B UN3373’.
  7. The second label should be placed on this bag, ensuring the label is not folded or creased.
  8. Seal the safety bag: hold back the blue band at the top of the bag, which exposes the peel-away backing, apply even pressure across the blue band surface.
  9. Wash your hands again.
  10. Now place the sealed Biological Substance Bag into your cardboard mailbox and close by tucking in the flaps.
  11. Wash your hands again before further handling of the sample box.
  12. Your sample is now ready to be taken to your designated drop-off point.

Please see this visual guide to the process or click here to watch a video demonstration.

Dropping off swabs

For those on the pre-trial beginning July 20th, please refer to the emails you should have received.

PRETRIAL ONLY: You will have collected all four of the swabs you need on Friday 17 July. Drop off the first on Monday 20, and the second on Tuesday 21 - both at the John Innes Centre pedestrian drop off point (check this map). If you do not have a parking permit, you can park on the grass overflow near the Centrum building, and walk to the drop off area. You can access the overflow parking by entering the NRP site via the Hethersett Road entrance. The grass overflow is on the right.

You will then have two swabs remaining. You can book the time slots and locations to return these on your participant account via the "bookings" tab at the top left of the page. Don't worry that you will have selected four time slots - just choose the two that are most convenient for you. Ideally, you would return one on the week commencing July 27 and the final swab the week after.

For everybody else, commencing the trial on July 27:

  • You need to book the date, time and location to drop off your fully packaged samples on your user account.
  • It is absolutely paramount that you drop off samples at the time and location you selected.
  • You will drop off four samples in total - two each week for two weeks.
  • Please make sure to make a note of the time and location you selected. You could also set a reminder on your phone and outlook calendar.
  • Note: Morning drop-off is 0800-1200. Afternoon drop-off is 1200-1500.
  • You will drop your properly packaged sample into a wheeled confidential waste bin.
  • There will be signs indicating the location of each site, which look like this:

Drop-off locations

You can check this map for the NRP site and for the UEA site click here for car drop-off map and click here for a pedestrian drop-off map.

NRP Drive through testing site (car accessible)

Please enter the site from Hethersett Road entrance. You will be directed by marshals to follow the NRP staff and student testing signs to the lane for you to drop off your sample.

JIC Reception area (pedestrian access)

This is for pedestrian access only. If you are coming to site by bicycle, please secure your bike in a convenient bike shelter and walk to the pedestrian access sample drop-off point. This will be located near to the JIC main reception under cover. You are advised not to pass through the JIC reception area to reduce footfall and maintain safety for the reception staff.

UEA Main Car Park (car accessible)

Please enter the UEA site from Earlham Road entrance, drive past the Sports Park and enter the UEA main car park from the first entrance prior to the roundabout. Once in the car park you will be directed by stewards and clear signage to the far end near the INTO building to drop off your sample. Please proceed to exit the car park as normal and we ask that you exit the UEA site via Bluebell road to reduce congestion.

UEA Central Court (pedestrian access)

This is for pedestrian access only. If you are coming to site by bicycle, please secure your bike in a convenient bike shelter and walk to the pedestrian access sample drop-off point. This will be located opposite Waterstones and Barclays bank , under the covered section of the SU Bar entrance.

The UEA is operating a temporary circulation route around campus, so please familiarise yourself with these changes when you reach campus and follow the one-way route to access and exit The Street.


Please drop off your sample and leave swiftly thereafter.

We must maintain strict social distancing and a steady flow of traffic.

Please try to avoid leaving drop-off until just a few minutes before we close the drop-off points (15:00), as this could cause unnecessary delays.

Checking your results

You can check the status of your results by logging into your account via the link in the email you received.

Participants will know their result as quickly as possible - we hope within 24 working hours (Monday to Friday) of receiving the sample.

Results will be one of the following three options:

Negative - this means you do not have COVID-19.

It’s important to stress that participants - even in the event of a negative test - still have to follow the official Government guidance and that includes social distancing and shielding measures. This project, whilst in receipt of full support of the local public health authorities, has not been commissioned by them and should not in any way interfere with general guidance to reduce the spread of the virus.

Insufficient sample - this means the sample did not collect enough cells to make a test possible. You do not have to do anything.

An Administrator will call - one of the project Administrators needs to speak to you, which could be for a number of reasons - possibly to discuss a Positive result.

Note: If your result is positive, we’ll call you to tell you and also advise you on what to do next.

We will refer positive cases to Public Health England and NHS Track and Trace. You can then expect a call from NHS Track and Trace with your participant ID as an identifier.

If you test positive, you will probably not need to be tested again.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Trial:

What is SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

This test is to detect the presence of the virus, and therefore whether you currently carry the virus.

When does the trial begin?

The majority of participants will begin their two-week testing period on Monday 27th July.

We'll also ask a small number of people to take part for an additional pre-trial, starting on the 20th July. This will allow us to process a smaller number of swabs, and ensure everything is working as planned, before we begin testing with the wider cohort on the 27th.

There is an option on the form to indicate your availability for this pre-trial. This would require you to participate for three weeks in total.

Why are we trialling SARS-CoV-2 testing?

To ensure that we have the capacity to screen the City of Norwich, it is important that we understand the experience of volunteers and can test performance and scalability through a local trial on NRP. If such a trial proves effective, the strategy could be rolled out more broadly as part of the UK’s safe exit from lockdown.

Do I have to be on site to access testing?

Most participants will be accessing the park for work or have the ability to access the park. You will not be using the hospital COVID-19 swab testing stations, but dropping your sample into one of several collection points around the park.

Does this include staff who have been furloughed?


What if my contract ends during the trial period?

Only staff members who continue to work for EI, JIC, QIB, TSL, UEA, AIP or NBIP for the duration of the trial period are eligible to take part. Those whose contract expires prior to the testing period, or during the testing period, would be ineligible.

How many people must opt-in to make this a successful trial?

We’re hoping for a large number to help us test the capacity of our systems. A few hundred a day is probably sufficient but we’ll be planning for over 1,000.

How will this pilot prove proof of principle that the whole of Norwich can be tested? Can we expect 75% or more of the population to travel to NRP twice a week?

That will not be the system we use for the whole of Norwich. If the project is expanded out to the City of Norwich, or another area, we will implement suitable drop off and collection processes for that community.

Does this interfere with government messaging around COVID-19?

No. We have consulted with the Department of Health and local public health and this project has their full support.

Taking Part:

Who can take part?

NRP staff and students (UEA, EI, QIB, JIC, TSL, AIP, NBIP) currently working or resident on site, or with easy access to site.

What does the test entail?

Participants will have to administer a self-swab to the back of their throat and to their nose. You can find information on how the test works here and by watching this video.

Detailed instructions will be provided along with the kits which can be picked up at the start of the project.

Participants will take a sample in the morning and drop it off at a collection point the same day between 8.00 and 15.00.

Testing will be staggered across the working week (Monday to Friday), so participants will be requested to swab and return samples on specific, pre-agreed days.

You can select which days you will return your samples when you register. We kindly ask you to stick to these pre-agreed days as this will allow us to maintain a steady stream of samples for the pipeline and reduce pressure on laboratory staff.

Please note: The test will be PCR-based and is to detect the presence of viral RNA. It is not an antibody test.

What do we do with the results?

Different processes will be tested. However, broadly we anticipate samples will be processed in 24 hours and participants with a positive test result will be informed via a phone call. Participants will be notified via email that their results status has been updated and will be able to view these by logging in to their participant account.

The project will be processed under standard medical ethics processes and will meet all necessary regulations for data privacy.

Is this opt-in?

Yes - this is an opt-in project and there is no pressure for you to enrol if you don’t wish to. We’re hoping that as many individuals enrol as possible to help ensure this pilot project gives us meaningful data, which we can use to scale-up testing if later required.

Although you are encouraged to sign up if you can commit to completing the 4 tests within the test period, you are free to exit at any point. You will not be required to spend any money in support of the project.

Will I be paid? Will travel expenses be provided?

Participation in the initiative is voluntary and unpaid. We will not be able to provide travel expenses so please consider this before deciding whether to take part.

If I don’t volunteer to be tested, does this affect my return to work on site?

No. Your involvement in the project or decision not to join the project will not affect your work or studies in any way. The project treats you as a private citizen in this respect.

About the Test:

Is the test PCR-based or antibody?

This is a PCR test, which will tell you whether or not you currently have COVID-19. The test cannot tell you whether you’ve already had the virus as there is no antibody test as part of this project.

How do I do the test? How invasive is it?

Please watch this instructional video for details on how to self-swab:

Participants will administer a self-swab to the back of their throat and nose. The test is minimally invasive and a sufficient sample can be taken with relatively little discomfort.

How likely is a false positive, or a false negative?

Our laboratory tests are of a high level of accuracy so false results are not likely, though they are always a possibility - however minimal that might be - in any procedure. This means that some people who are carrying SARS-CoV-2 might not test positive. Results will be double checked following strict quality control procedures in all cases. It is more likely that we do not receive a sufficient sample quantity to give a result, so it is important to follow the guidance provided carefully. During this test we won’t ask participants to repeat any tests that fail due to insufficient material collected, but will ask them to undertake their next test on the planned test day as normal.

Is it possible that I might do the test wrong?

As with any self-assessment, it’s possible to do it in a way that doesn’t collect an ideal sample. However, the video guidance should help you to get the best possible sample with the least amount of discomfort.

Will you continue to test staff after the trial period?

Possibly, however all plans will depend on the success of the trial and long-term affordability.

Can my family also be tested?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer tests to members of the family or household as part of this project.

Would a nose swab be impacted by use of a hayfever nasal spray?

We would suggest taking the swab first thing in the morning, before using the nasal spray, just to be sure.

Can I take part if I’m on a bike? What about public transport?

You can cycle to the Park to collect or drop-off your swabs. We would strongly advise you to avoid using public transport wherever possible. If you are taking public transport to work, you must wear a face mask by law, and exercise social distancing. The current government advice on safe travel can be found here.

About your Sample:

How quickly do I need to return my sample?

Participants will take the sample in the morning and drop it off at a collection point the same day by 15:00.

Can someone else drop off my sample?


One of my neighbours works on site but I do not. Can they drop off samples for me?

Yes, as long as you are able to maintain social distancing as per Government guidelines and samples can be accessed safely.

Is the sample group representative? Is it a diverse sample?

This pilot project is designed as a proof-of-principle for the testing process and laboratory procedures required to conduct mass testing in the first instance. Any data that can provide insight into epidemiology is also highly valuable, which means we encourage as many people as possible to take part.

What if I develop symptoms during the trial period?

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during the trial period, we recommend that you contact the NHS immediately as normal ( and go ahead with official NHS testing before awaiting the results of your next swab.

Why are we providing swabs, rather than saliva samples?

We are not doing saliva tests yet as these are yet to be validated. What we learn from this pilot will enable us to start validating new testing methods.

Why can we not mail samples?

We want to turn around samples as quickly as possible, ideally providing results within 24 hours. The quickest way to achieve this will be through dropping off swabs on your agreed days so we can collect and process them rapidly.

I am currently pregnant, does this affect my capacity to participate?

If your pregnancy interferes with your ability to get to site, please contact the team to discuss potential options.

Your Data:

What data is being collected?

When you register we will ask you to provide details of which organisation you work for, some basic information about you (age range, ethnicity), contact details, which days you will take your samples and what is your level of access to the NRP. Once we have those details we can confirm if you can be part of the project.This is only so that we can monitor uptake within the various partner organisations.

All data will be anonymised before it is shared with the partner organisations. Employers will not be informed which of their staff/students have signed up to take part.

The project will be processed under standard medical ethics processes and will meet all necessary regulations for data privacy. That approach will include the principle that only the minimum necessary data will be asked for and stored. All personal data will be held in a secure database, and will not be shared with partners in the project. Samples will be identified only by a barcode/QR code, and those collecting and analysing the samples will not be able to identify who they belong to. We will also limit the distribution of data under best practice guidelines.

Is medical data accessed as part of the study?


Your Results:

How long does it take to get results in the pre-trial?

This will take a little longer than 24 working hours as we double-check our systems. The main trial will aim for less than 24 working hour turnaround. Samples taken on Friday will be reported on the following Monday

Why do I have an email telling me I have a result but it's not appearing in my online account?

Please refresh your screen or logout and back in again and you should see the result confirmed online. If you still have any issues, please email the admin team at

Partner Organisations