Lateral Flow Testing Q&A

Berkshire’s Testing Programme

Can you explain Berkshire’s testing programme?

Local authorities in Berkshire have introduced community testing programmes, also referred to as rapid testing. Free, twice-weekly Lateral Flow Device tests (LFDs) (sometimes also known as Lateral Flow Tests or LFTs) are now available to everyone.

When does the testing start?

LFD testing is now available across Berkshire.

Who can be tested?

The tests are for people who are NOT displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

Why should people take part?

We aim to identify positive cases of Covid-19 in people who do not have symptoms but who are infected and are infectious, and who could spread the infection to others unknowingly. Identifying and supporting positive Covid-19 cases, and ensuring people with a positive result self-isolate, will reduce transmission to others.

How long does it take to do the LFD test?

It takes just a few minutes to do the test.

How long does it take to get the result?

The LFD test produces a result within 30-60 minutes.

How will I find out about the results of my test?

If you use a test centre to have your LFD, you will be contacted with the results of your test using the contact information you provided at the test centre. You can also get home testing kits and process the test yourself. Find out more here.

Do I have to take the test?

While it’s not mandatory to take part, we very much hope that everyone will recognise the benefits of getting involved in local testing to reduce the spread of the virus in their communities.

Will people be paid to take a test?

No.

How do I get my LFD test?

You can get your tests in any of the following ways:

  • home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home (you can also order tests by calling 119) but do remember to test first and collect second to ensure you know how to do the LFD test properly
  • collect tests to do at home from you local pharmacy or community collect site
  • go to a test site near you
  • employee and university testing – some employers and universities are offering rapid tests
  • school, college and nursery testing – if you attend or work at a school, college or nursery you may be able to get rapid tests through your organisation

What will the test tell me?

The test result will confirm if you do or do not have Covid-19.

If you get a positive result, it is likely that you were infectious at the time the test was taken.

The test cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus in a sample, so if you have only recently been infected, and are in the incubation period, or if you have mostly recovered from the virus, the test may give a negative result. If you have been asked by your employer to have a test, they may ask you to have another test in a few days. You must continue to observe the guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus: Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air.

What should I do if I test positive?

  • If your LFD is positive, it is imperative you self-isolate at home for at least 10 days.
  • You will also need to take a PCR test to confirm your positive result. You can order a PCR test online or by calling 119.
  • A PCR test is processed by a laboratory and the results are usually available within 48 hours. You must self-isolate until you receive the result of your PCR test.
  • 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.

What should I do if my confirmatory PCR test is positive?

  • If you have a positive PCR test result, you must isolate from the day you get your test result and for the next 10 full days.
  • Your close contacts, and anyone in your household or support bubble who are double vaccinated, or who are aged 18 and 6 months or under, do not need to self-isolate; however they are advised to get a free PCR test as soon as possible. This is not applicable to those working in Health and Social Care. Full details can be accessed here.
  • If you were already self-isolating and had a PCR test because you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, your 10-day self-isolation period restarts on the day you get your result if your PCR test result is positive. Find out more here.

How do I register my LFD test results?

If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or call 119. They should self-isolate if positive and order a confirmatory PCR test. Remember to self-isolate while you are waiting for your PCR test and until you get the results of your PCR test.

About the LFD test

What is an LFD test?

Around 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 is asymptomatic, which means they have Covid-19 and are infectious, although not showing symptoms. These people are highly likely to spread the virus to others. LFD technology enables us to identify and isolate more asymptomatic people. By identifying these asymptomatic positive cases more quickly, we will help to break the chain of transmission.

How does the LFD work?

An LFD detects the presence or absence of coronavirus from a swab sample. The sample is mixed with a solution which releases and breaks up virus fragments. Some of the solution is then dropped onto the lateral flow device. The sample runs along the surface of the device’s absorbent strip, and 30-60 minutes later it will display either a positive or negative test result for Covid-19.

How are the LFDs processed?

LFDs do not require a laboratory to process the test.

Are Lateral Flow Device tests (LFDs) less accurate than Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests?

LFD and PCR tests have different characteristics and different uses. PCR tests are more sensitive but need to be processed in a laboratory, which means it takes longer to get the results.

While LFDs are less sensitive than PCR tests, they deliver results much faster and do not require a laboratory. This makes LFDs ideal for testing large numbers of asymptomatic people and getting their test results to them faster than with PCR technology. LFDs also work well when the person being tested has a high viral load (a lot of the virus in their system), which helps us identify the prevalence of the new Covid-19 variant.

LFDs enable us to identify a larger percentage of people who are infected and infectious, but asymptomatic and unaware of the fact that they are possibly spreading Covid-19.

Do these tests work for people without symptoms?

LFDs are validated technology. The test is safe, inexpensive and the results are trusted. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford shows LFDs are specific and sensitive enough to be used for community testing, including for asymptomatic people, which means people who have the virus but don’t have any symptoms.

How much does each LFD test cost? And will they be available to buy on the market?

The UK government has been purchasing LFD test kits. The current position is that these will not be available for members of the public to purchase. The cost per kit is not disclosed due to commercial confidentiality and sensitivities.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

Please book a free PCR test if you have symptoms of coronavirus – high temperature, continuous cough or loss of/change in taste or smell – at gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. Only leave your house in an emergency or if you need to go to a test centre. If your test is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days.