From 11 January in England, people who receive positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results for Coronavirus will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
Lateral flow tests are taken by people who do not have symptoms of covid-19. However, anyone who develops 1 of the 3 main Covid symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test. They must self-isolate if they get a positive test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test – these rules have not changed.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Professor Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset County Council, said: “While covid levels remain high across Somerset, and indeed, the country as a whole, people can be confident that rapid tests are highly accurate. The vast majority of people who test positive on an LFD can be confident that they have covid-19, and should self-isolate. However, these tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of covid-19. Anyone with covid symptoms should self-isolate and book a PCR test.”
Under the new guidance, anyone in England who receives a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result should report their result on gov.uk and must self-isolate immediately, but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.
Anyone who tests positive will be able to leave self-isolation seven days after the date of their initial positive test if they receive two negative lateral flow test results, 24 hours apart, on days six and seven providing they no longer have a fever.
At present anyone with a positive lateral flow test who has no symptoms needs a PCR test - carried out in a lab - to confirm their result. This can take days to arrive and health officials are worried people may not be isolating during this time. The change will also improve access to PCR tests for people with symptoms and for healthcare, transport and other key workers following problems over test supplies.
There are some exemptions to the new rule. People who require Test and Trace financial support, those taking part in Covid research studies and around one million people in England eligible for new NHS treatments for Covid will all be asked to take a follow-up PCR.
With the current surge in demand, due to the increase in people with Covid-19 symptoms or testing positive on LFDs, some people have experienced delays when booking an onsite PCR test. Availability is temporarily reduced in some areas to ensure labs can meet processing demand. Availability is refreshed very regularly, so check back every 30 minutes. Please also remember that you can also order a PCR test kit to be delivered to your home. Again, availability will be refreshed regularly, so continue to check the site throughout the day to make sure you receive your test promptly.
LFDs tests should become available for order online every few hours, as availability is refreshed regularly. People are encouraged to re-visit the site every few hours. Please remember that LFDs can be collected at local participating pharmacies, as well as via the online ordering service. You will need a QR code to collect from a pharmacy.
Visit Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) to order your lateral flow tests to your home or find out where to get rapid lateral flow tests locally at Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests - NHS (test-and-trace.nhs.uk).