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How community testing helps fight coronavirus

  • Around one in three people who are infected with coronavirus have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.
  • You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and there is limited fresh air.
  • Even if you are vaccinated you can still pass on the COVID-19 virus.

Asymptomatic testing means those who test positive for the virus but who don’t get symptoms will know to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus. Adults and children who test positive are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. After 5 days, you may choose to take a Lateral Flow Test followed by another the next day – if both are negative, and you do not have a temperature, you can safely return to your normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with anyone in an at risk group, including if they live in the same household.

Reporting your results (even if they’re negative) helps monitor levels of infection in the community and helps early detection of new variants.

When to do rapid lateral flow tests

When you DON’T have symptoms

You may wish to do rapid lateral flow tests on days when you’re more likely to catch or spread COVID-19, for example, do a test before you:

Certain places such as health and social care settings, schools and prisons are likely to have their own specific testing rules and guidance. You should continue to follow testing guidance for those settings.

When you are staying home because you have tested positive for coronavirus 

From 24 February 2022, you will not be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. However, adults and children who test positive are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. After 5 days, you may choose to take a lateral flow test followed by another the next day – if both are negative, and you do not have a temperature, you can safely return to your normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with anyone in an at risk group, including if they live in the same household.

You are advised to stay home if you have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive, so do not go out to collect lateral flow tests, instead it is recommended to:

  • keep a supply of lateral flow tests at home
  • ask someone else to collect lateral flow tests for you

How to do home lateral flow tests

All tests are easy for you to do at home. Step-by-step instructions are included with the test kit. You can call 119 and request a translation service.

To get started:

  • Check if you have a ‘throat and nose’ test pack or a ‘nose only’ test pack
  • Choose the right ‘How to’ video guide depending on your test pack type
  • Read the instructions supplied in the test box
  • Take your test
  • Report the result

Get testing support and guidance in 200 different languages online; or call the NHS on 119.

What to do with your test result

  • Report your result online or by phone. Instructions on how to do this are included in the test kit
  • If the result is positive: from 24 February 2022, you will not be legally required to self-isolate. However, you are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. After 5 days, you may choose to take a lateral flow test followed by another the next day – if both are negative, and you do not have a temperature, you can safely return to your normal routine. Those who test positive should avoid contact with anyone in an at risk group, including if they live in the same household.

There is more information about test results and what to do on the NHS website.