A lateral flow test is a type of test taken when you don’t have symptoms. One in three people with Covid have no symptoms, so lateral flow tests help to identify those cases before it starts to spread to others.
Lateral flow tests are generally taken at home. You can get free tests in a number of different ways:
A lateral flow test (sometimes called an LFT or LFD) is one of the two most common types of Covid test. It’s faster than a PCR test and can be done at home, but is slightly less sensitive.
Rules have recently changed: you no longer need to get a PCR test to confirm a lateral flow test result. Instead you should take the result of your lateral flow test (i.e. isolate if positive).
Lateral flow tests are used when you don’t have symptoms and so can be used often. It is recommended that you take a lateral flow test twice a week. You may also be asked to take a lateral flow test as part of travel arrangements, or regularly if you’ve recently been in contact with someone with Covid.
It's a good idea to take a lateral flow test before you go to an event or gathering, such as going to meet friends at a pub or restaurant.
Lateral flow tests should not be used if you have symptoms. Instead, you should go for a PCR test and self-isolate until the results come back.
Like PCR testing, lateral flow tests involve swabbing the inside of the nose and the back of the throat using a long cotton bud. The kit works like a pregnancy test, detecting proteins which are present only in people who have COVID-19.
If you test positive, you need to self-isolate for at least 7 days. You'll need two negative lateral flow tests, taken 24 hours apart (usually on day 6 and 7 of self-isolation), in order to stop isolating after 7 days. If either of these tests are positive, you should remain in isolation until either you have two negative tests or 10 days have passed (whichever happens sooner).
You should inform anyone you’ve been in close contact with, so that they can go for a PCR test.
Rules have recently changed and you NO LONGER need to go for a PCR test to confirm the result of your lateral flow test. If your lateral flow test is positive, then you should now act as you would for a positive PCR (i.e. self-isolate immediately). For more information on why this change has taken place, please see this Welsh Government announcement: Written Statement: Prioritising PCR Testing (5 January 2022) | GOV.WALES
You should record the result of every lateral flow test you do, positive or negative. This is important as it helps Public Health teams to more accurately see where Covid is spreading and manage services appropriately. It also proves you’ve been taking them, which may be useful if you need to test for work, school, or if you’ve been in contact with someone with Covid.
The easiest way to register your results is online by clicking here, where you can make an account to speed up the process. If you’re unable to report your results online, you can also do so by calling 119.