Lateral Flow Testing

"The NHS is under immense pressure and will soon run out of capacity. We all have a duty to protect ourselves and our  communities. Please have a coronavirus test if you are offered one - identifying people who are carrying the virus will help us reduce transmission rates."

Tessa Lindfield, Director of Public Health for East Berkshire


Community Testing

One in three people who have Covid-19 do not have any symptoms (they are asymptomatic) - so you could have the virus and not know it, yet still be transmitting it to others. Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) identify people who are asymptomatic. Anyone who tests positive will be asked to self-isolate. Everyone in their household and support bubble must self-isolate too. This is an important step in breaking the chain of transmission.

Community testing using the LFT enables fast, easy testing of priority and high-risk groups in local communities. Unlike the PCR test, an LFT does not have to be processed in a laboratory, so it gives much faster results, showing whether a person is infectious at the time of testing. The LFT requires a swab from your throat and nose, which is placed into a tube at the testing site. You will receive your results by text or email within 30-60 minutes of your test.

Who is eligible?

Community testing will be offered to critical and key workers and anyone who is required to leave home for work or a crucial activity, or for the management of local Covid-19 outbreaks. We urge you to come forward and book your test appointment once you receive  your invitation.

Booking a test

If you are eligible, you will be contacted by your local council or your employer, by email or text, to arrange an LFT appointment. We are currently exploring options for an online booking system to allow people to book their own appointment. More details should be available in due course.

LFT testing is for people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms. Remember, if you do have symptoms you can get a free test by going online or calling 119. 

Dr Amir Khan explains the LFT self-swab test procedure.

If your LFT is positive

  • If your LFT test is positive, it is imperative that you and your contacts self-isolate at home for at least 10 days, and anyone in your household or support bubble must self-isolate for 10 days, away from friends and family.
  • Follow the government's guidance on self-isolation here
  • Ensure you follow the instructions and guidance provided by NHS Test and Trace when they get in touch to identify your contacts.

If your LFT is negative

  • If your LFT is negative, you should continue to follow the government's guidelines on how to protect yourself and your family from coronavirus, including regularly washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and staying at least 2m apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble. 
  • If your test is negative but you feel unwell or have any of the following symptoms:          
    • High temperature                
    • New and continuous cough    
    • Loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

          contact your GP as you would normally or call NHS 111.

Critical or key workers

Find out if you are a critical or key worker - read the government's guidelines here.

For more information about LFT, please visit our Q&A page here.

Dr Tim Ho talks about the importance of getting a test if you think you have Covid-19.