A number” of undergraduates were given used swabs, with some packaging reportedly containing names and addresses.
The University of Birmingham’s student newspaper, Redbrick, reported that “25 used test kits were handed to students”.
The mistake was made in Tiverton Road, Selly Oak, by staff taking part in Birmingham City Council’s drop and collect service yesterday Tuesday, October 13.
Dr Justin Varney, director of public health, today apologised for the mistake, saying a review of the process would take place.
He said it appeared only one of the tests had been opened, and none used, after staff reacted within minutes of realising the mistake.
He said a full forensic approach to investigating the incident was under way and students involved would be offered support.
But reports from students as seen on BBC news claim some students might have reused the contaminated swabs.
Speaking to BBC WM this morning, Wednesday, Dr Varney said: “The used kits look different from the unused kits so it is not clear why that was not picked up.
“The teams are trained and go through a training programme. Kits that have been used go into despatch boxes so it’s not clear what happened. Like any other organisation, when a mistake is made we look into it and that is what we are doing.
“We are going back to double check with the houses involved. Our job now is to be really clear with individual houses and approach this forensically.
“Our duty of care is to be absolutely crystal clear to check if anyone has been put at risk, have we got the right support for them, and make sure this kind of mistake cannot happen again and tighten the procedures further.
“Eleven thousand kits have been delivered through drop and collect to date, without problems.
“I am really sorry this mistake has happened. It is not what we wanted.
“It was picked up within minutes and acted on. We have seen that one set was opened, but the majority had not even opened the kit. We think the risk is very limited.”
“I hope people are not put off. This is an isolated error”.