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Covid guidance for medical students on GP placement September 2021

We hugely appreciate you hosting medical students in your practice during the Pandemic.

All students have been reminded of the clear guidance on what to do in relation to Covid testing and self isolating

For your information, the information below is what they have been advised 

Clinical Attachments

Students in years 3, 4 and 5 continue clinical placements. Clinical attachments in years 1 & 2 may return during the year. The basic premise is that you should follow the practices of the clinical team you are attached to.

The risk of your catching or transmitting COVID cannot be eliminated, but there is much we can all do to minimise it. Students’ behaviour is an important part of maintaining safety for all. We know that you endeavour to be diligent in keeping patients, your peers, tutors, healthcare workers and all their relatives and contacts safe: thank you.

We strongly urge all students to do the following:

  • If you have ANY SYMPTOMS that could relate to COVID – DO NOT ATTEND YOUR ATTACHMENT. GET a PCR test as soon as possible (DO NOT USE A LATERAL FLOW TEST). See below for guidance.
  • Ensure you are fully vaccinated. Some General Practices have communicated that they will only take students who are fully vaccinated, and as you may have heard the government is considering mandatory vaccination for those working in healthcare. Any student who is not fully vaccinated and is in clinical placement MUST inform Prof N Kennedy if you have not already done so to perform a risk assessment.
  • Get a supply of Lateral Flow Testsand undergo asymptomatic testing regularly:
  • If you test positive on a lateral flow test you MUST book a PCR test as soon as possible
  • Download the Stop COVID NI app
  • Wear the correct PPE (see Q 5 below)


Clinical attachments in General Practice:

We want to highlight the particular responsibilities of students going to General Practice attachments, whether on Family Attachment, or in 4th and 5th year. The visible impact on service delivery if General Practice staff have to isolate due to contact with a student who has COVID is very high, i.e. many patients are affected. Already in the first week of this term two Practices had to have large proportions of their team isolate which has significant impact on a service already under great pressure. News of such events quickly spreads among the GP community, and potentially erodes GPs’ ongoing willingness to host students. Please help with the efforts to keep the clinical attachments going while keeping everyone safe.

Its important to remember that support is always available, from the CME pastoral support team (see Question 5, below), or from QUB at: Your mental wellbeing is important. Personally, I strongly believe that mental wellbeing is best served by striving for perspective, cultivating company, protecting regular exercise (like a long walk) and even respecting the basics like healthy eating and sleeping. None of this will happen without your planning.

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Q1 What do I do if I have symptoms of COVID?

If you develop any symptoms of COVID (e.g. high temperature, dry cough or loss of taste or smell), then:

self isolate right away. Put on a face covering, return to your accommodation immediately, avoiding public transport if possible. Where required, the University can assist you in booking a special COVID-secure taxi to transport you home: call: 90973550. There will be a cost to you for this. If you are staying in Trust accommodation, return to your Belfast accommodation / home if at all possible.

book a PCR test

If the result is negative, then you can return, if you haven't had a fever for over 48 hours.

If you are on placement, to arrange a test, phone the appropriate COVID19 Helpline from the Health Trust in which you are placed:


Health Trust 

COVID19 Helpline


02896 152828 for testing

02896 157222 for Occ.Health enquiries





South Eastern 




The Health Trust will then arrange for you to receive a COVID19 test at the Trust Testing Facility and will phone you with the result within 48 hours.

If required, contact Ms. Perpetua Lewis in the CME ( to avail of CME-based pastoral support.


Q2 What do I do if I test positive for COVID 19 on PCR?


QUB by phoning 028 90973550.

It is important to phone QUB if you receive a positive COVID test result

  1. If you are on Clinical Placement, you must inform your Clinical Supervisor AND the Trust's Undergraduate Office / GP Practice about your result as soon as possible
  2. Please complete an online “self-cert” to inform CME of your absence.  This will inform all relevant staff in CME of your absence
  3. all students are encouraged to download the COVIDCareNI and the STOPCOVID apps. If you test positive, you must 'inform' the app

When you notify QUB of your positive test, a member of the University COVID Response Team will phone you to see how you are, and identify when you have been on campus. ‘On campus contacts’ will then be emailed and called, but not told who the positive case was.

However you are encouraged to inform any possible close contacts: see below for how ‘contact’ is defined.


  1. you must self isolate for 10 days from symptom onset, or from the date of your positive test if you were asymptomatic. If you are staying in Trust accommodation, return to your Belfast accommodation / home if possible.
  2. you can return to normal after day 10 if you haven't had a fever for over 48 hours (you do not need to keep self isolating if you have a cough, or loss of taste or smell, as these symptoms can last weeks)


Q3 What is ‘contact’?

You are a contact if you have been close to a confirmed case:

  • from 2 days before the onset of symptoms
  • or from 2 days before a positive test if you had no symptoms.

The current PHA criteria defines close contact as:

  • anyone who lives in the same household as someone with COVID symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID
  • anyone who has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID with a PCR test:
    • face-to-face contact, including being coughed on, or having a face-to-face conversation within 1 metre
    • being within 1 metre for 1 minute or longer without face-to-face contact
    • being within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up over 1 day)
    • skin to skin or any sexual contact
    • travelled in the same vehicle or plane
  • Closeness may be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Contact tracers may ask about who you have seen in the 48 hours before symptoms began. You may be asked about duration of contact, proximity of people and use of PPE such as facemasks.


Q4 What do I do if I am a contact of someone who is confirmed COVID positive?

  1. Your actions depend on if you are fully vaccinated, and if you are a household contact of the person that is COVID positive.
  2. You most NOT have ongoing contact with the positive case. If the person that is COVID positive shares your house/ flat, you most self-isolate for 10 days.
  3. You have a negative PCR test. You are advised to isolate while waiting for the PCR result, and once it is negative you can leave isolation. You are also required to undertake a PCR test at day 8 from the time of contact.
  4. You undertake a lateral flow test daily before you attend university or clinical placement, and this must be negative for you to attend.
  5. There are some clinical areas that are exceptions to these guidelines. These are areas with particularly vulnerable patients. In these areas staff and students must not attend for 10 days after contact with a COVID case, irrespective of vaccine status and PCR test results. These include Intensive care units, haematology/ oncology wards and renal dialysis centres. This list is not exhaustive. If you have any doubts, ask the occupational health department in the trust you are placed.

‘Fully vaccinated’ means you have had 2 doses of an approved COVID vaccine, and the second dose was more than 2 weeks previously.

If you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to self-isolate provided the following conditions are met:

  1. If required to self-isolate, inform ALL of groups a, b and c below:
  2. QUB by going onto this QUB site. You must do this even if you already have informed other QUB staff
  3. If you are on Clinical Placement, you must inform your Clinical Supervisor AND the Trust's Undergraduate Office / GP Practice about your result as soon as possible
  4. Please complete an online “self-cert” to inform CME of your absence.  This will inform all relevant staff in CME of your absence

‘Contacts of contacts’ don't have to self isolate, including household members.

Remember as a contact, you should have an ‘asymptomatic COVID test’ before returning to campus.

Remember the importance of the basics: washing hands regularly, maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks when social distancing is not possible.