Find out how to get a coronavirus (covid-19) LFD test if you do not have any symptoms.
Everyone can now get a coronavirus test. If you do not have symptoms, you are still encouraged to test yourself twice a week using a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test. There are several ways you can get a test.
If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you should self isolate and book a PCR test for people with symptoms.
Order tests to be delivered
Collect a test from a local pharmacy
You can collect a test from participating local pharmacies. You can find pharmacies currently offering LFD test collection on the NHS website.
Anyone 18 or over can collect home testing kits and you can collect two packs at a time, each pack containing seven tests.
Testing in the workplace
If you cannot work from home you should ask if your employer is offering workplace testing. Employers can find out more about workplace testing on the government's website.
Staff working in schools, childcare and related occupations will be provided with testing kits by their school, alongside the testing for pupils and students.
What to do with the tests
Once you have collected your tests you should:
- test yourself twice a week (every 3 or 4 days) using the testing kits. Instructions are provided with the kits
- report every result to NHS Test and Trace on the same day as you take your test. You can report your LFD test result online or by calling 119.
What to do if you test positive
If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result.
You must tell your school or college if you are a pupil, student or member of staff.
Anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test.
What are lateral flow tests?
Testing for people without symptoms is done with lateral flow devices (LFDs) which can be used in the workplace or at home. This lets people test themselves and get results in under 30 minutes.
A negative lateral flow test result does not mean that an individual definitely does not have Covid-19 and that there is therefore no risk.
The benefit of lateral flow tests is that they can provides results quickly, without the need for delay in sending swabs to a laboratory. However, as with many tests, decreasing turnaround time means that there is also a decrease in accuracy.
Individuals with a negative lateral flow test result should continue to practice social distancing, handwashing and wearing face coverings, and all other existing infection prevention measures to try and decrease the spread of disease.
If your test is positive you and your household must self isolate. You should also book a test for people with symptoms within 48 hours to confirm the result.
The tests for people with symptoms are carried out at testing sites using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which are then sent to laboratory.
How accurate are lateral flow tests?
The preliminary evaluation report showed that they are very good at correctly identifying people who do not have coronavirus – 99.68% of people in the evaluation who did not have COVID-19 were correctly given a negative test result.
LFDs are not as good at correctly identifying people who do have coronavirus, finding that 76.8% of people who would have been picked up as positive cases with a PCR testing received a positive result with a lateral flow test. This means that there is a significant proportion of people who would have tested positive with a PCR test who received a negative lateral flow test result.
This is why a negative lateral flow test result does not definitely mean that an individual definitely does not have Covid-19 and that there is therefore no risk. Individuals with a negative lateral flow test result should continue to practice social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, and all other existing infection prevention measures to try and decrease the spread of disease.
People who test positive using an LFD test, and their household, must self isolate and book a test for people with symptoms within 48 hours to confirm the result.
What are the risks and benefits of lateral flow testing?
- around one third of Covid-19 cases are in people who do not have symptoms. Undertaking regular testing of people without symptoms should lead to the detection of cases that otherwise would not have been picked up. These people can then isolate and any close contacts identified, which can help break chains of transmission
- LFDs provide rapid results (processing time 30 minutes), without the need to send tests to a laboratory. It is possible to respond to positive results quickly by isolating individuals and decreasing the risk of further spread
- LFDs will not pick up all cases, although they are more likely to pick up cases with high viral loads (who are potentially more infectious)
- there is a risk that people who have a negative lateral flow result will assume they do not have Covid-19 and will therefore behave as though they cannot spread disease (i.e. no longer feel it is necessary to socially distance, wear a face covering, regularly wash their hands etc.)
- LFDs are an additional measure of protection but it is very important that they should be used in conjunction with the above measures, not replace them. Complacency could lead to an unintentional increase in the spread of disease
Support if you need to isolate
If you are required to self-isolate following a positive test result and need help with shopping or other essentials, please let family, friends or neighbours know how they can help you. If you don’t have anyone else to call on, you can contact us and we will direct you to help in your area. You can find out more on our help for you during coronavirus page.
Help for you using your testing kit
You can watch a tutorial video that supports the written instructions in your pack, from Dr Amir Khan.