A guide to Test and Trace

LFD tests

What is a lateral flow device and how does it work? 

A lateral flow test works in a similar way to a pregnancy test. A sample from your tonsils and nostrils is applied to the absorbent pad, which displays two lines if the virus is detected.

Results can be seen in under an hour.

It is different to a PCR test, which needs to go to a laboratory and takes around 48 hours for the results to come back.

What’s involved with taking an LFD test?

Testing involves taking a throat and nose swab sample. You will need to do this yourself. There will be further guidance and instructions when you arrive at the test centre on how to do this. You can also watch this video from Barts Health, to see how it is done.

Who can be tested? Can anyone get one? 

Yes, in Southend (across the borough) anyone can get one, if you don’t have symptoms. Visit our testing page to see the testing sites available. If you do have symptoms, you need a PCR test – please see our testing page for locations and how to book this.

If you have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 90 days you should not take another test (either PCR or LFD) until that time has passed. Guidance is changing regularly so please check the latest guidance.

What if I have symptoms?

Anyone with one or more of the following symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a PCR test via the Gov website or call 119. You should do this as soon as you experience symptoms as the tests are most effective at this early stage. 

LFD testing is only for those without symptoms. 

How long does it take to do the test and how long does it take to get the result? 

It takes less than 15 minutes to administer the lateral flow device test. The test takes around 30 minutes to produce a result and you will usually be notified of a result within an hour.

How are the tests processed? 

Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. Swabbing and processing of these tests must currently be conducted at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel. 

What should I do if I test positive? 

You and your household will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the day you took your test. You should get a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible and within the next 2 days of your positive LFD test result at the latest. You can order a home test kit online. It is also advised that all asymptomatic contacts get a PCR home testing kit also. Visit our support pages to find out what support is available to those self-isolating. Eligible individuals who test positive with a PCR test will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment through NHS Test and Trace. Find out if you’re eligible. Following your positive LFD test, if you then test negative with a PCR test you and your household are able to come out of isolation and return to work. However, if you receive a negative PCR test result but the test was taken more than 2 days after the LFD, or you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or been in contact with a positive case then you do need to continue to isolate for your full 10 days. Guidance is changing regularly so please check the latest guidance.

What should I do if I test negative?

You don’t have to self-isolate unless you have been in contact with a positive case or have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. 
A negative test result does not mean you definitely don't have COVID-19. You must continue to social distance from others, follow restrictions and health advice.

What if I develop symptoms after I’ve booked by LFD test appointment or whilst in the queue at the LFD test site?

As soon as you experience symptoms you should safely make your way home as soon as possible – avoiding public transport and any contact with others if at all possible.

You will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the first day you developed symptoms and book a test as soon as possible either online or by calling 119.

I haven’t received my LFD test result. What should I do?

If you haven’t received your LFD test result within an hour of taking your test, call the Southend Coronavirus Helpline as soon as you can on 01702 212497 (Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm, Sat and Sun 10am to 2pm)

How accurate is the LFD test? 

If your LFD test result is positive it is certain that you have a Coronavirus infection and you must self-isolate as soon as possible and make sure your household do the same.

With a negative LFD test result there is a level of uncertainty. A negative LFD test does not guarantee that you do not have Coronavirus as the test is not able to pick up all infectious cases. However, the test is effective at picking up cases that are the most infectious and those who have a high viral load. This is why we must continue to practice social distancing and not take any undue risk. 

This new testing technology will allow us to find and isolate far more cases, including the many thousands of people who are infectious but do not have symptoms. 

Finding more positive cases, faster, is vital to help us prevent more restrictions and save lives.

Why should I take a follow-up PCR test?

PCR testing is a vital part of preventing the spread of the virus, as well as in the detection of any new variants.
The £500 Test and Trace Support Payment is only available following a positive PCR test. 

Why should people take a test? 

It is not compulsory to take a test. However, by taking a test you are helping to protect your loved ones, and the whole community. Many people do not have symptoms when they first have the virus, so can easily pass it to others when heading out for essential shopping or exercise. If you test regularly, you will help make sure you do not pass the virus to others without knowing, if you do catch it.

What is community testing? 

Community testing is the testing of more of the public, without symptoms. It can help areas control the virus, enabling those who have it without knowing, to isolate before spreading it. It can then help areas move down into lower tiers, where the tier system is in place. 

What if I can’t visit a testing site?

If you cannot visit a test centre in person you can order a home testing kit which is a PCR test kit. This must be booked in the same way as the other tests, by visiting the Government website.

Should I still get tested even though I’ve been vaccinated?

The vaccine doesn’t contain any form of the virus so will not affect the validity of a Covid-19 test result. We do not yet know whether the vaccine will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so anyone who has been vaccinated (regardless of the number of doses) needs to continue following infection control measures, social distancing and getting tested regularly as they did before their vaccination. Regular testing of those who have been vaccinated is encouraged as it will help us learn more about the vaccine.

I am experiencing some symptoms of Covid-19 following my vaccination. What should I do?

It is impossible to catch COVID-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught COVID-19 before your vaccination appointment and not have any symptoms, or develop symptoms later on.

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:

• a new continuous cough

• a high temperature

• a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

It is normal to have flu-like symptoms following a vaccine and a mild fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination. If you have any other COVID symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111.

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