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COVID-19: TESTING AND SELF-ISOLATION

This page reflects the latest official rules and advice as of April 1, 2022.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to take a lateral flow test as soon as possible. If you test positive, you should self-isolate for five days.

On day five and day six of your isolation, you should take a lateral flow test. If either of these tests are positive, you should remain in isolation until you test negative on two consecutive days or ten days have passed (whichever is sooner).

Please note that there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate if you have symptoms or test positive for Covid. However we strongly advise you to self-isolate if you have Covid to keep the people around you safe and stop the virus spreading further.

PCR tests are no longer available to the general public. Instead, you should use a lateral flow test – you can order tests here:

If you need financial support because you are self-isolating, the Self-Isolation Support Scheme may be able to help. You can find out whether you're eligible and how to apply by clicking here.

FAQS

A lateral flow test (sometimes called an LFT or LFD) is a type of Covid test. It involves using a swab to take a sample, usually from your nose, to detect whether you have Covid. They can be done on yourself or by another person such as a medical professional.

Results are usually available in less than thirty minutes.

Lateral flows are used when you have symptoms of Covid.

Before April 2022, lateral flow test were generally used for people who did not have symptoms. This was changed in March, and lateral flow tests are no longer available for this purpose except for in certain cases (for healthcare staff, in certain educational settings, etc.)

As of March 31 2022, the general public are no longer able to access PCR tests for Covid. Instead, you should use a lateral flow test if you have symptoms.

PCR tests are still available for certain groups, such as health and social care staff or hospital inpatients.

You can now only order lateral flow tests if you have symptoms of Covid-19, unless a medical professional has advised you to take a test.

You can order tests online by clicking here. If you're unable to order online, you can call 119 for free between 7am and 11pm to place an order.

Lateral flow tests are always free if you have symptoms. However if you need to prove your negative status for international travel, you will have to pay a private provider for this.

You are no longer legally required to self-isolate if you test positive. However, we would strongly recommend that you still isolate to keep the people around you safe.

You should self-isolate for at least 5 full days from the day of your positive test. You'll should have two negative lateral flow tests, taken 24 hours apart (usually on day 5 and 6 of self-isolation), in order to stop isolating after 5 days. If either of these tests are positive, you should remain in isolation until either you have two negative tests 24 hours apart, or 10 days have passed (whichever happens sooner).

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.

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.