Community testing FAQs
Below are the community testing FAQs.
They have been grouped into sections, to help make navigation easier for you.
1. How long does it take to do the test and how long does it take to get a 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'll be notified of your result by email or text message.
2. What should I do if I test positive following an LFD test?
If your test is positive you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the first test along with all those you live with. You are legally obliged to do this.
From 27th January 2021, there is no need for you to go on to get a confirmatory PCR test. This is a temporary arrangement whilst the prevalence of the virus is high and LFD tests are less likely to give a false positive result.
The exception to this is NHS England staff and those who work in Adult Social Care, where the test is taken as part of an asymptomatic testing workplace programme and results are registered using a self-reporting tool. It will also remain for primary school workers where testing is done at home, but not for secondary school workers who take tests at school. Confirmatory PCR testing will also be used for vaccine and LFD testing surveillance, genome sequencing and for self-administered tests.
Confirmatory PCR tests will continue to be required for:
- NHS England staff;
- Adult Social Care;
- Primary school workers who test at home;
- Hauliers; and
- Those in pilots using self-test reporting tools.
3. If I get a positive test from an LFD, do my contacts still have to self-isolate?
Yes. At this stage, the rules for LFDs are that anybody you have been in close contact with for 48 hours before, including and after when you took your test needs to self-isolate for 10 days.
4. What financial support is available if I have to isolate?
From 27th January 2021, a positive LFD test result will activate the ability to claim for financial support to self-isolate, in the same way as a positive PCR test result would. A government scheme and local discretionary scheme are available. Find out more about the Test and Trace support payment.
5. What should I do if I am isolating following positive LFD test result and I develop symptoms?
If you are isolating because of a positive test result but did not have any symptoms, and you develop COVID-19 symptoms within your isolation period, start a new 10 day isolation period by counting 10 full days from the day following your symptom onset.
You can return to your normal routine and stop self-isolating after 10 full days if your symptoms have gone, or if the only symptoms you have are a cough or anosmia (loss of or change to sense of taste/smell), which can last for several weeks.
If you still have a high temperature after 10 days or are otherwise unwell, stay at home and seek medical advice.
6. If I get a negative test, can I hug my friends/relatives or ignore social distancing?
No. It is important to remember that the LFDs can miss people who are positive (a false-negative result). Even with a negative test, you must still act like you have the virus and keep socially distanced from others, wash your hands and wear face coverings.
Regular testing with LFDs does not stop you getting the virus, and is about helping to pick up as soon as possible if you have the virus so you don’t spread it to others.
Even if the negative result is accurate and you do not have COVID-19 when you take the test, you might already have caught the virus and be incubating it – this means that you might start to be infectious soon after your test – so keep acting like you have it!
7. What happens if my test is negative, but I have coronavirus symptoms?
If you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, you must book a PCR test as soon as possible. You and your household must isolate immediately until you receive your results.
If you have symptoms, you should not go to an LFD testing centre as this is for people who are asymptomatic.
8. Will regular LFD testing allow me to go back to a more normal way of life?
No. LFD testing is very good at identifying those with a high positivity of COVID-19 so that they can isolate as soon as possible to stop the spread of COVID. If you receive a negative LFD test this does not guarantee that you do not have COVID-19. You may have a very low positivity which has not been picked up by the LFD test.
You must continue to practice all infection control and national guidelines both in and outside of work.
9. What should I do if I don’t receive my result by text message?
If you do not receive a text message with your result, you should call 119. Staff at the testing centre will not be able to give you your result, so please do not return for this purpose.
10. Are there circumstances where I can get regular tests and continue to work if I am negative, even if I have been near a confirmed case?
At the moment, LFDs are being used to identify cases of COVID-19 in people who may be infectious and passing the virus on to others but have no symptoms. This is called “test to find” and is about making sure that as many people with COVID-19 are found quickly so that they can self-isolate and we can inform their contacts so they can also self-isolate as soon as they can. This helps to reduce the amount of spread in the community.
The Department of Health and Social Care are considering circumstances in which if you have been exposed to a case (you are a contact), that you can have regular tests every day and if you test negative you can continue to go to work or school. This is called “test to enable”. However, as these tests can miss some people who are positive, there are risks involved with this strategy as you might get a negative test and yet continue to work whilst you are infectious. Therefore, as yet, we cannot do this in Gloucestershire.
11. Should you not return to work until you receive a text with your result?
At the moment it's taking between 10-30 minutes for the NHS system to send a text to the individual with their result but there can sometimes be a delay. As this is asymptomatic testing, people can go about their daily routine as normal, following the usual guidance.