Lateral flow tests explained: Ordering, reporting results and testing on children

ALL Brits now have access to rapid coronavirus tests to check themselves every few days – to ensure that Covid isn't spreading in the community.

Lateral flow tests return results in just 15 or 30 minutes and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Places of work and businesses across the country now require employees to take these tests, to make sure they can keep operating.

While they are not 100 per cent accurate, they catch the most infectious cases, even if you don't feel ill.

That means you can then stay at home and not infect anyone else.

Brits have been advised to take two tests a week and to continue testing after restrictions are relaxed on July 19.

Using the lateral flow tests is also one way you can secure a Covid passport to events.

You require a negative lateral flow test 48 hours before the event or two coronavirus vaccines.

What is a Covid lateral flow test?

A Covid lateral flow test uses a swab from a patient's nose or throat to quickly determine if they are infected with coronavirus.

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They are being used to check if people have the virus but are not showing symptoms.

By catching these people it means they can isolate at home and not spread the virus.

Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.

How do I order and use a Covid lateral flow test?

Head online to this website – where you can request a pack of tests to use at home.

The testing kit comes with instructions and is fairly simple to use.

It first involves taking a swab of the throat and nose and dipping it into a solution.

This is then placed onto a paper pad on the device – that looks like a pregnancy stick.

Inside the device is a strip of test paper that changes colour if coronavirus proteins are in the sample.

Usually, one line next to the "C" means negative, two lines next to "C" and "T" means positive, and no lines or one next to "T" means the test is void.

How do I report my results?

Use this service to report your result to the NHS after using a rapid lateral flow test kit to check if you’re infectious with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Report the result every time you use a rapid lateral flow test kit and as soon as possible after you get the result.

You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours. You can only report one result at a time.

You need to have the barcode on the test strip or the ID number printed under it and a mobile phone number to get a test confirming the result.

It is the same for reporting your children's results.

You can also report results to NHS Test and Trace on the same day they take it, either by inputting their results online or by calling 119.

How accurate is a Covid lateral flow test?

Lateral flow tests are not as reliable as the PCR tests used by the NHS.

The Department of Health says because the tests have been rigorously assessed by scientists, it means they are "accurate, reliable and successfully identify those with Covid-19 who don’t show symptoms".

But the tests were not designed to look for Covid in people without symptoms, but for people who did have symptoms.

It means the results are not 100 per cent correct.

The Government website states that "when a person has low levels of virus in their system, lateral flow tests are less sensitive than some of the other tests we use, such as PCR tests".

Can you buy a Covid lateral flow test?

Yes, you can buy Covid lateral flow tests online.

However, the accuracy of an online test kit that has not been approved by a regulator cannot be guaranteed and a test result could be incorrect.

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