President Chan's address on community testing

"We should take great confidence and hope from how we have worked together to successfully navigate these unprecedented times."

​Hello KAUST Community,

I want to talk to you about the recently announced COVID-19 screening program that will take place on campus from November first through the fifth.

I'd like to explain the purpose of this very important program and how it forms an integral investment by the University in ensuring both our continued safety, as well as our continued ability to move around campus and engage in learning, conduct research and more.

The screening program will give us unprecedented snapshots at periodic intervals - it will allow us to know the current prevalence of COVID-19 in our community. This will help us with addressing the immediate healthcare demands and needs of the community, while also informing our plans for the months ahead.

Participation in the COVID-19 Screening Program is mandatory for all KAUST employees and students. All other community members aged 16 and over are strongly urged to take part. The process is easy and the test takes just a few minutes to complete, and its success and effectiveness is very much dependent on your participation. I urge everyone who can participate to do so, and to book an appointment now.

This intensive screening exercise is a piece of the overall testing program we have been building since the summer. Combined with random community testing, as well as our more targeted testing of symptomatic individuals and those returning from travel, we are now capturing a level of data accuracy that is crucial to permit the ongoing re-opening of campus at a moment when many around the world are headed back into isolation. In fact, normalizing testing as part of daily life is central to opening-up in a safe way and in a way that gives us all confidence.

When I reflect on the first couple of months of the pandemic, I am truly impressed by how we responded as a community and as an organization. This comprehensive screening program is our collective next step to ensure that we continue to manage the pandemic sustainably and effectively. None of us want to return to the severe restrictions of the spring gone by.

With our partners in the Ministry of Health, we have set ourselves a target of 5,000 individual swabs to be collected over the week starting November first ,and this exercise may be repeated periodically in the future.

I must acknowledge the continued willingness of the Ministry of Health to help us in our testing program. And our strong relationship with this busy government Ministry is all the more important as we participate in this screening program.

It is also worth reflecting on the journey this campus and this community has been on since the pandemic started. We should take great confidence and hope from how we have worked together to successfully navigate these unprecedented times.

I must stress, though, that we are not yet out of the woods. As we look around the world, it is clear that the threats from COVID-19 are as virulent as ever. The good news is, through our hard work and dedication, we have come to know and practice the behaviors to control it.

The best response has been our collective response, and so I urge you to trust us again and to join us in this community screening program.

Registration closes at five pm on Tuesday, October 20th – so, please make registering your top priority and encourage those around you to do the same.

Remember, we are stronger together.

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