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 Berkshire East

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.

How to do a rapid test at home

Throat and nose test: blue and white pack

Nose-only test: green and white pack (Orient Gene)

Nose-only test: blue and white pack (ACON Flowflex)

Twice-weekly Lateral Flow Testing

One in three people who have Covid-19 does 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.

Close contacts of a positive case and people in their household and support bubble do not have to self-isolate if they have been double vaccinated, or if they are aged 18 and 6 months or under. However, they are advised to get a PCR test as soon as possible. This is not applicable to those working in Health and Social Care. Full details can be accessed here.

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 (some test kits require nose swabs only). The swab is placed in a tube with a small amount of solution before applying to the test cartridge. The results will be available after about 30 minutes.

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 PCR test by going online or calling 119.

If your LFD test is 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 to do if your 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 day.
  • 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.

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.