Covid cases in the UK are on the rise amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with it still advised to take lateral flow tests on a regular basis if you don’t have any symptoms.
But when should lateral flow tests be taken and how should you report the results?
Here’s everything you need to know.
How do I report a lateral flow test?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you should report your test result - whether it’s positive, negative, or void - every time you do Covid rapid lateral flow test at home or at work.
You need to report your result within 24 hours of getting it.
You can report your result on the UK government website, but you cannot report a result after more than 24 hours and you can only report one result at a time.
If you are taking daily rapid lateral flow tests because you are a contact of someone who has Covid, you should report your result every day.
If you cannot use the online service you can instead call 119 for free. Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm.
Before you go to report your result, you will need:
To use this service, you need:
- the QR code or ID number printed on the test strip (the part of the kit that shows your result)
- a mobile phone number so you can receive a text confirming the service has your result
In Scotland, you should report your result through the NHS Scotland portal if you work in healthcare, social care and the NHS.
If you are visiting a care home you should also report your result through the NHS Scotland portal. You should then take a screenshot as proof of your negative test result.
If you don’t work in health or social care, you should report your result on the UK government website.
Why do I need to report my results?
Reporting your lateral flow 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)
When should I take a lateral flow test?
You should do rapid lateral flow tests on days when you’re more likely to catch or spread Covid.
For example, do a test before you:
- mix with people in crowded indoor places
- visit someone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
You should also do daily rapid tests (one a day for seven days) if you’ve been in contact with someone with Covid and are either:
- fully vaccinated
- under 18 years and six months old
What if my lateral flow test is positive?
If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site and the result was positive you need to:
- self-isolate straight away – check if people you live with need to self-isolate
Under measures introduced in December, you can now leave self-isolation after seven days as long as you receive two negative lateral flow test results, 24 hours apart on days six and seven.
However, if you continue to test positive you must remain in quarantine for the full ten-day period.
If you are asymptomatic and get a positive lateral flow test result, you do not need to confirm the result with a PCR test. You only need to confirm a positive lateral flow test if:
- you’re applying for a Test and Trace Support Payment
- you’re eligible for new Covid-19 treatments
- you’re asked to do so as part of research
- you have a positive rapid lateral flow test on or before day 2 of arriving in England from outside the UK
However, if you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, then you should order a PCR test.