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FAQs: Asymptomatic testing for coronavirus

Asymptomatic testing for coronavirus using lateral flow


Why do I need a weekly test if i am asymptomatic?

Around1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on to others.

Regular testing of people without symptoms is important to help stop the virus spreading and protect your loved ones.

As lockdown restrictions gradually ease we all need to play our part to help protect each other.


What is the difference between a Lateral Flow Test and a PCR test?

A Lateral Flow Test (LFT) is a device which can identify an individual with the Coronavirus Infection with no symptoms.

The procedure is the same in terms of a mouth and nose swab but these tests generate results in 30 minutes.

We know that between one in four and one in three people who have coronavirus never show any symptoms but that does not mean they are not infectious. The LFT can reliably be used to detect individuals with the virus that we would not otherwise be able to find. Every positive individual detected can stop a chain of transmission once these individuals isolate for 10 days.


PCR (Polymerise Chain Reaction) tests are used across NHS Test and Trace, with capacity to carry out over 500,000 tests every day. However, PCR tests are prioritised for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms so that they can get the treatment they need, and we can trace their contacts and break chains of transmission.


Do I need a confirmatory PCR test following a positive LFT?

From 30th March the following changes will take place:

  • Contacts of positive cases, who are not experiencing symptoms, will be offered a PCR test which they can book on the website (or through 119). This testing will be via a home PCR testing kit. A negative PCR test result will not release the contact from self-isolation. A positive PCR test result will extend their self-isolation as they must isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test.
  • All individuals who receive a positive LFD test result will be encouraged to take a follow-up PCR, whether the LFD test was assisted or self‑reported. 


What will I have to do in the time between a positive LFD result and obtaining a PCR test?

A positive LFD test result (assisted or self-tested) will be treated as the trigger for the legal duty to self-isolate. 

If a negative PCR result is obtained within of the positive LFD test result the legal duty to isolate will end (providing you are not already isolating due to being a contact of a positive case).

Contact tracing will begin immediately after a positive LFD result (i.e. without waiting for result of follow-up PCR). The tracing process will be stopped and self-isolation notices rescinded where there is a negative follow-up PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of the LFD test result.


I have already been isolating as a contact of a positive case, why will my self-isolation period be extended if I test positive?

If you test positive for coronavirus even though you are asymptomatic, you will need to isolate for a further 10 days from the date of a positive test. We must all play our part to reduce transmission of the virus.


If I am a contact of a positive case but my PCR test shows I am negative, can I end my isolation period?

No, receiving a negative test does not replace isolation. Contacts of positive cases who test negative, still need to complete 10 days of self-isolation.

The virus’ incubation period means that there is still a chance of developing COVID19 and you could still be infectious, if you leave your isolation period early you risk infecting others as you could develop the virus at a later date.


How do I get my LFT result?

Your result will be available within 30 mins of taking the test.

They are point of care tests, so don’t need to go to a lab to be processed.

Your result will be sent to you via SMS and/or e-mail.

Results will be communicated at latest within a day of the test. 

You are legally obliged to self-isolate following a positive LFT result.


What happens if I get an inconclusive LFT test result?

If your LFT result is invalid or inconclusive, you will need to take another as soon as possible. 


How does the LFT test result find its way to the national CTAS line list?

Users can input their positive LFT result into the NHS app, using a token ID from CTAS which would then trigger self-isolation and contact tracing.

They can also register their test result online at or use the phone number in the test kit’s instructions.


When am I legally obligated to Self-Isolate?

You are legally obliged to self-isolate immediately following a positive LFT result.

Follow the latest government guidance on self-isolation.


What is the NHS Test and Trace COVID payment and how do I claim?

If you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local authority through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

The scheme will run until 31 January 2021.

If you’re employed, you’ll pay tax on the payment if you go over your personal allowance. Your tax code will change to collect the tax.

You will not pay National Insurance contributions on the payment.

If you’re self-employed you must report the payment on your Self-Assessment tax return.

  • Apply for your payment via the Stoke on Trent City Council website
  • You can only apply for the payment if you have been asked to isolate on or after 28th September 2020
  • You must meet eligibility criteria, for example claim Universal Credit, ESA or means tested benefits.


You are not eligible if you:

  • are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14-day quarantine period)
  • continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate
  • can work from home during a period of self-isolation
  • were notified by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate before 28 September 2020
  • have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
  • are furloughed from work.


The payment is for people who are losing income because they are unable to work because they are self-isolating.


If a member of staff has tested positive for Coronavirus in the last 90 days, do they have to isolate following a positive LFT?

Staff members should not be taking part in testing if they have had a positive test within the last 90 days. If they are tested and the test is positive, the result can be disregarded providing the individual has no symptoms of coronavirus and no isolation needs to take place. If the individual displays symptoms, they should isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.


Should staff who have tested positive for Coronavirus in the last 90 days be part of the LFT regime.

If a person has tested positive for coronavirus, they will have begun to develop antibodies.

For up to 90 days following a positive test, old cells of the virus can still be present within the body so the LFT may pick up a positive result even though the person has fully recovered.

Therefore, testing is not recommended until after the 90 days has passed.


Is an LFT as accurate as a PCR test?

Antigen lateral flow tests are highly specific, which means that only a small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result.

Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford shows that lateral flow tests are appropriate for large-scale population testing, including for asymptomatic people.


Will people who test positive on one of these rapid tests face fines if they don’t self-isolate? Will they be eligible for the £500 self-isolation payment?

From 27 January 2021, LFT positive results will legally confirm diagnosis of coronavirus and activate legal obligations to self-isolate and the ability to claim the Test & Trace Support Payment for those not self-reporting.


Won’t it mean people are less likely to come forward for Lateral Flow Testing if there is an obligation to self-isolate following a positive result?

It is essential that anyone who tests positive self-isolates immediately to protect their friends, family, colleagues and local community – and to help stop the spread of the virus and save lives.


Why is the change only taking place in England when prevalence is still high in the whole of the UK?

This change will take effect in England only as of Wednesday 27th January 2021.

It is for each of the four nations of the UK to decide on their own testing policy.


Should I continue testing after I’ve had the vaccine?

Yes, continue to test even though you have had the vaccine.


Lateral flow testing for schools

What changes are taking place to testing when shools reopen on Monday 8th March?

Twice-weekly testing using lateral flow tests will be extended to full households with primary, secondary and college age children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles to help find more Covid-19 cases and break chains of transmission.

Secondary school pupils will be asked to take their first 3 tests at their place of study under the supervision of a trained operator, they will then begin to test themselves twice weekly using a home test kit. Pupils must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed, either online or by telephone, as set out in the home test kit instructions. 

Teaching and non-teaching staff of primary and secondary schools should take twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school. This includes permanent, temporary and voluntary school staff.

Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders. 


Why do I need to test myself and my family?

About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on to others.

Regular testing of people without symptoms is important to help stop the virus spreading and protect your loved ones.

As lockdown restrictions gradually ease we all need to play our part to help protect each other.


How will I access the twice weekly testing?

Providing you have no symptoms of Covid-19, you can access Lateral Flow Testing in the following 3 ways:

  1. Testing in-person via workplace testing
  2. Local Authority Community Testing Sites
  3. A new home ordering service allowing people to order Lateral Flow Tests online, to their home and for collection at a local community test site oir PCR test site during a specific test collection window.


How do I access or order the Lateral Flow Testing kits?

NHS Test and Trace has rapidly expanded its network of testing sites and has more than 500 test sites that will provide Lateral Flow Device tests to eligible individuals as part of community collect.

You can collect 2 packs of home test kits at a local collection point. Each pack contains 7 tests.

Anyone 18 or over can collect. You can check online if the location is busy before you go.

If you are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online. Do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.


Where are the community test sites and 3 local PCR test sites located?

Community testing sites offering this service are: 

  • Hanley Town Football Club
  • LRV Staffordshire University

  • Northwood Stadium

  • Florence Sports and Social Club

  • Christ Church, Tunstall

  • Baddeley Green Working Mens Club

  • Dimensions Leisure Centre

  • Wallace Sports and Education Centre

  • New Horizons Leisure Centre

  • Trentham Rugby Club

Opening times for these venues can be found here.

Stoke City FC (Bet 365 Stadium)The three PCR sites are:

  1. Synetics Solutions Ltd (beside Port Vale FC)
  2. Fenton Manor Sports Complex

The sites will only accept customers with bookings for symptomatic PCR tests made via the portal up until midday.

The sites will then be available for Lateral Flow Device collection after 14:30pm.


If my test is positive, will I need to have a confirmatory PCR test?

Yes, if your Lateral Flow Test shows that you are positive you will need to book an appointment for a confirmatory PCR test at one of the PCR test sites or order a home testing PCR kit online.

Accuracy of testing is higher when administered by trained physicians therefore home testing will require a PCR test.


Do I need to report my Lateral Flow Test results?

A Lateral Flow Test is a coronavirus test you do yourself. It shows you the result on a handheld device that comes with the test.

You MUST report the result every time you use a lateral flow test kit and as soon as possible after you get the result. You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours.

If your result is positive you and your household MUST self-isolate immediately.

Reporting results helps to reduce infection rates in your community, protect people at higher risk of infection, prevent and reduce the spread of the virus and to find out if you’re infectious (you may not have symptoms).

You can report your test online via the website or by calling 119.


I don’t have any symptoms but I have tested positive, if I don’t report my results no -one will know, I don’t see the point in isolating.

You have a legal obligation to Isolate. It is the law. Fines for those breaking the rules start at £1,000 and can increase up to £10,000 for repeat offenders.