Testing for COVID-19
There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19).
- PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they’re sent to a lab to be checked
- rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result
The government has made some changes to the COVID-19 testing requirements in England recently, so we have created this special edition of our newsletter to help everyone understand what they need to do and when.
Confirmatory PCR tests suspended from today
From today, people in England without COVID-19 symptoms who receive a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are required to self-isolate immediately, without having to take a confirmatory PCR test.
It’s a temporary measure while cases of coronavirus are so high across the UK. While case levels are high, the vast majority of people with positive lateral flow device results can be confident that they have coronavirus.
Rapid LFD tests are for regular use by people who do not show any of the three main symptoms of having coronavirus – the high temperature, new and continuous coughing, or change to their usual sense of taste or smell. They’re to identify positive cases among people who would otherwise not know they’ve got it.
If you have any of those symptoms, you’re to self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test, online.
From today, anyone testing positive with a LFD should report their result on GOV.UK, and must self-isolate immediately.
But there are some exceptions
If you have a positive LFD test result, you should still also have a follow-up PCR test if:
- you also have COVID-19 symptoms
- you wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment – to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 following a PCR test or an assisted LFD test
- you have received an email or letter from the NHS because of a health condition that means you may be suitable for new COVID-19 treatments – if this applies to you and you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, you should use the PCR test kit that was sent to you in the post for this purpose; if you have not received a PCR test kit you can arrange to have a PCR test
- you are taking LFD tests as part of research or surveillance programmes, and the programme asks you to take a follow-up PCR test
- you have a positive day two LFD test result after you arrive in England from outside the UK.
If you have a positive test result
You should stay at home and self-isolate if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a positive LFD or PCR test result.
Self-isolation will help protect your family, friends and the wider community by reducing the risk that you will pass the infection on to others.
Your self-isolation period starts immediately from when your symptoms started, or, if you do not have symptoms, from when your positive LFD or PCR test was taken, whichever test was taken first.
The self-isolation period lasts for 10 days, after which you can return to your normal routine if your symptoms have gone, or if you’re just left with a cough or loss of sense of taste or smell (these symptoms can last a few weeks).
If you’ve still got a high temperature, or still feel unwell after 10 days, stay at home and seek medical advice.
Ending your self-isolation period earlier than 10 days
You can end your self-isolation period before the end of the 10 full days, if you take an LFD test from six days after the day your symptoms started, and another LFD test on the following day.
The second LFD test should be taken at least 24 hours later.
If both test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative LFD test result.
Don’t forget to report your COVID-19 test result
When you take a rapid lateral flow device (LFD) COVID-19 test, always remember to report the result via the government website.
Whether it is positive, negative or void, reporting results is a great way to help the NHS reduce the spread of the virus.
Reporting results helps to:
- reduce infection rates in your community
- protect people at higher risk of infection
- prevent and reduce the spread of the virus
- find out if you’re infectious (you may not have symptoms)
Report the result every time you use a LFD test, as soon as possible after you get the result.
If you are taking daily LFD tests because you are a contact of someone who has COVID-19, you should report your result every day.
You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours and you can only report one result at a time.
How to access COVID-19 tests in Devon
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 get a PCR test as soon as possible, even if the symptoms are mild.
You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a local walk-in or drive-through test site via the government website.
Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you’re vaccinated, you could still catch the virus or pass it on. Doing rapid tests regularly helps to protect yourself and others.
You can order free packs of LFD tests to be sent to your home via the government website.
Picking up rapid LFD tests from a local pharmacy or collection point is the quickest way to get them for most people.
Our pop-up community testing vans also provide on-site LFD tests, without the need for appointments, at locations across the county. However, difficulties with the supply of LFD tests mean that they don’t have any home test kits to hand out at the moment. Details of our mobile community testing van timetable are available on our website.
Which COVID-19 test do I need?
We know it can be hard to keep track of which COVID-19 tests you should take; when you should take them, how often, and what you’re meant to do afterward.
Start by answering a simple question about your current situation and then follow the guidance provided. In some scenarios, there are further options for you to select from which will help you to understand what you should do in the most common situations.