PCR or Lateral Flow?
There appears to be a little confusion over which tests to use in different situations. Hopefully, the following should help. The general rule is:
- Rapid Lateral Flow Tests - Only for people who do not have symptoms
- PCR Tests - Mainly for people with symptoms
Rapid Lateral Flow Tests
Only for people who do not have symptoms
- These are taken at home twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus because about 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms. You can order them here
- Rapid Lateral Flow tests give a result in 30 minutes using a device similar to a pregnancy test.
- You should always book a PCR test if you receive a positive Rapid Lateral Flow Tests
Mainly for people with symptoms
Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You and anyone you live with should stay at home until you get your test result. Only leave your home to have a test.
You should always book a PCR test if you receive a positive Rapid Lateral Flow Test
PCR tests are sent to a lab to be checked – you can book one here
There are some additional circumstances when a PCR is appropriate, sometimes when no symptoms are present – click here
For even more information about Covid testing, Click here for the NHS site – ‘Get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)’