Lateral Flow Testing

“The NHS is under immense pressure. 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.”

Stuart Lines, Director of Public Health for East Berkshire

News update: Free, twice-weekly lateral flow device (LFD) tests are now available to every person in England who does not have Covid-19 symptoms.

Find out more here.

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 Device tests (LFDs – sometimes called Lateral Flow Tests or 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 LFD test enables fast, easy testing of priority and high-risk groups in local communities. Unlike the PCR test, an LFD test 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 LFD test 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?

Everyone in England who does not have Covid-19 symptoms can now have a twice-weekly LFD test. As we emerge from lockdown, regular testing in the months ahead can help us all get back to normal. Find out how to get your tests here.

To give you confidence in doing the tests properly at home, we recommend you follow the “test first collect second” process. Just turn up at a local testing site and experienced testing staff will share knowledge and expertise with you. Then you can collect your box of tests and head home again.

Booking a test

Identify test sites in your area and book regular appointments using our Sitefinder link: Find a test centre (test-and-trace.nhs.uk). It’s as simple as turn up, get tested and go.

LFD 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 LFD self-swab test procedure.

If your LFD test is positive

  • If your LFD 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 or family. A contact is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Find out more here.
  • 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, your contacts and anyone in your household or support bubble 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 to do if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive using an LFD test

  • If you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 using an LFD test but you are not experiencing symptoms, you should take a PCR test to confirm your positive result. You can order a PCR test online or by calling 119.
  • If your PCR test result is negative, you must still complete your 10-day self-isolation period. This is because you could still develop symptoms.
  • If your PCR test result is positive, you must extend your self-isolation period to a further 10 days from the day you get your positive result.
  • Do not order a PCR test if you have had Covid-19 in the last 90 days. This is because the test may pick up Covid-19 after you have recovered from it and are no longer infectious. You should still self-isolate for 10 days after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

What to do if your confirmatory PCR test is positive

  • If you have a positive PCR test result, you and anyone you live with must self-isolate from the day you get your test result and for the next full 10 days.
  • 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.

If your LFD test is negative

  • If your LFD test 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 LFD tests, please visit our Q&A page here.