Around one in three people with coronavirus do not have symptoms. Lateral flow testing is a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms, but who may still be spreading the virus.
Free rapid testing is now being offered to everyone, with people encouraged to take regular tests (twice a week) to help prevent outbreaks and reclaim a more normal way of life.
Before the test
Do not turn up for a lateral flow test if you are below the age of 16, or if you are displaying any of the following symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
- a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste
If you have any of these symptoms, please use the GOV.UK website to book a PCR test.
How to get a lateral flow test
There are now several routes available to receive twice weekly testing.
- Get a test kit sent to your home – If you are unable to get to a test centre to collect a test kit you can order a home testing kit to be sent to your home.
- Collect a test from a pharmacy – You will be able to use this service if you are over the age of 18 without symptoms. Participating pharmacies will provide a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home.
From Monday 4 October, changes have been made to the pharmacy collect service to improve traceability of lateral flow test kits. The main changes you will notice are:
- You are now only allowed to collect two packs of LFT kits, rather than four.
- You will need to register for a 16 digit collect code on GOV.UK – Get a collect code to pick up coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests or by phoning 119 before making a collection from a pharmacy. If you do not wish to register for this collect code, a supply can still be made as an anonymous collection, but we encourage everyone to use collect codes wherever possible.
- Assisted asymptomatic testing in a local pharmacy from Saturday 1 May – Some pharmacies have signed up to provide assisted testing using Lateral Flow (rapid) tests, for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus. If you have never used a rapid test before, it is a great way to be shown how to do the test correctly. You can then collect kits and do the testing at home. Or this service might help you if you cannot perform the test on yourself for any reason, allowing you to take part in regular rapid testing.
Pharmacies signed up for assisted testing can be found below*:
|Allcures Ltd||Minster Pharmacy||15 Silver Street, Ilminster||TA19 0DH|
|Allcures Ltd||Preston Grove Pharmacy||Preston Grove, Yeovil||BA20 2BQ|
|Allcures Ltd||Quantock Pharmacy||11 Swain Street, Watchet||TA23 0AB|
|Axbridge Pharmacy||Axbridge Pharmacy||The Square, Axbridge, Somerset||BS26 2AR|
|Day Lewis PLC||Day Lewis Yeovil||Hendford Lodge Medical Centre, 74 Hendford, Yeovil||BA20 1UY|
|Eightlands Ltd||Cranleigh Gardens Pharmacy||Cranleigh Gardens, Bridgwater||TA6 5JS|
|Jhoots Pharmacy||Jhoots Blackbrook||Blackbrook Medical Centre, Lisieux Way, Taunton||TA1 2LB|
|Jhoots Pharmacy||Jhoots Victoria Park Dr Bridgwater||Victoria Park Dr, Bridgwater||TA6 7AS|
|Jhoots Pharmacy||Jhoots Somerset Bridge Bridgwater||Somerset Bridge Medical Centre Stockmoor Park Estate, Taunton Road, Bridgwater, Somerset||TA6 6LD|
|Superdrug Stores PLC||Superdrug Bridgwater||19 Fore Street, Bridgwater||TA6 3NH|
|Superdrug Stores PLC||Superdrug Yeovil||15 High Street, Yeovil||BA20 1RQ|
|Touts Pharmacy||Tours Cheddar||Roynon Way, Cheddar, Somerset,||BS27 3RB|
|Touts Pharmacy||Touts Street||82 High Street, Street, Somerset,||BA16 0EN|
*please check the opening hours with your local pharmacy before visiting/booking.
If you’re going into hospital
You may need to get tested if you’re due to have surgery or a procedure. The hospital will arrange this for you. Contact your hospital department if you have any questions.
Testing for coronavirus before hospital – Sets out how and when to use a PCR home test kit to test for COVID-19 before a hospital procedure.
The workplace testing scheme has now come to an end, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have written to all the private and public sector organisations who were signed up to the scheme to inform them of this.
Workplaces are now asked to direct their employees to pharmacy collect and ordering online to continue accessing rapid lateral flow tests. As we continue to return to normal, twice weekly testing remains key and we recommend people continue to test.
However, workplaces may chose that the best way for them to test their employees is through private testing providers. Employers should refer to Private providers of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing – GOV.UK and related guidance if they wish to continue workforce testing using this route.
Tests for NHS and social care workers
NHS Test and Trace is making regular coronavirus testing available to people without symptoms who work in the NHS and social care. Primary care staff can find out more here
Tests for care home residents and staff
There’s a separate testing service for care home residents or staff members. You can still get tested even if you do not have symptoms.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in adult care homes – How to access test kits and step-by-step guides on how to use PCR and rapid lateral flow test kits for regular and outbreak testing of residents and staff.
Tests for adult social care settings
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social care settings – Outlines the COVID-19 testing available for testing staff, residents and visitors for all adult social care settings.
Nursery and school staff
Tests for nursery staff
You will need to use this order form to place orders for home kits to enable twice-weekly testing of staff. Orders placed before 5pm on Wednesdays will arrive the following week, after this time orders will be processed and delivered the subsequent week. Further information on how to order additional test at home kits and details on the national testing policy can be found on the primary schools and nurseries document sharing platform.
Asymptomatic testing: early years staff in different settings – How staff in early years settings can access regular rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing.
Primary, middle and secondary school age pupils
It is important to note that this expansion in testing is not for children. Secondary pupils will access testing through their school, and primary age children should not be tested at this time.
You can find FAQ’s on rapid testing information to support the return to school here. Please note that this information is related to the schools testing programme and not other asymptomatic programmes.
- Students are encouraged to get tested for Covid-19 before they travel back to university, where community testing facilities are available to them.
- All students eligible to return to university should get two tests – one immediately on return to university and then again three days later. You should then be tested twice weekly after that. Your university should share guidance with you, setting out how and where to access asymptomatic testing.
- If you are a student who has arrived from overseas and have completed a period of quarantine –either in a hotel or in your own accommodation – you are not expected to perform a lateral flow test on your initial return to campus. Students should follow instructions on regular asymptomatic testing as set out by their university or higher education provider.
What the test involves and the results
There are now 2 new brands of lateral flow test (LFT) available, Acon Flowflex (blue and white pack) and Orient Gene (green and white pack). Both brands of LFT still come in packs of 7 tests, and still need to be performed twice a week.
The Acon Flowflex tests and Orient Gene tests differ in the respect that it only takes 15 minutes for a final result. Not only that, but these new kits both require nasal swabbing (of both nostrils) only. Swabbing of both tonsils is no longer required.
|Test kit||Innova||Orient Gene||Acon Flowflex|
|Package colour||Blue and white||Green and white||Blue with brown|
|Resting time||None||1 minute||None|
|Wait time||30 minutes||15 to 20 minutes||15 to 30 minutes|
There are some slight differences in the test method of each brand, so please make sure you read each instruction leaflet before performing the test. And as always, please make sure that kits are kept at room temperature between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius before use.
Step by step video guide to Orient Gene COVID 19 self-testing
Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow home test kit instructions for nose-only test: ACON Flowflex – Step-by-step guide on how to do an ACON Flowflex rapid nose-only test for COVID-19 and report the results.
You must report your lateral flow test result on GOV.UK as soon as possible, or phone 119 to report your lateral flow test result if you are unable to use the online service. The 119 service can provide support in 200 languages.
If you test negative
If your lateral flow test result is negative and you have no symptoms you do not need to self-isolate – unless you are a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19 and you are over the age of 18 and have not been fully vaccinated greater than 14 days ago.
If you test positive
If your lateral flow test result is positive:
- You should self-isolate immediately, alongside any household contacts who are older than 18 and have not been double vaccinated greater than 14 days ago.
- You will need to book a follow up Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to confirm your result as soon as possible.
- Continue to self-isolate until you get the results of your PCR test.
- Follow the advice you are given when you get the PCR test result
If the follow up PCR test result is also positive, you will need to self-isolate alongside any household contacts who are older than 18 and have not been double vaccinated greater than 14 days ago.
If your follow up PCR test is negative and has been done within 48 hours of the positive Lateral Flow Test you are no longer required to self-isolate.
What to do if you have misreported a positive LFT result on the website
If you have incorrectly reported a lateral flow result as being positive, when it was negative, you can take any of the following actions:
- Complete the online NHS Test and Trace form
- Email email@example.com
- Or phone 119
If you cannot get through to 119 or fail to get a response, you should book a PCR test (within 48 hours of the lateral flow test being taken).
You and your household contacts are required to self isolate until you receive the result of the PCR test. If the PCR result comes back negative, you can then stop self-isolating.
You and the close contacts need to self isolate until the test result is resolved.
Self-isolating means staying at home and not going to work, for food shopping or for any other reason. Your positive test result indicates that you are at risk of spreading the virus.
You can find more information on the NHS website: When to self-isolate and what to do – Coronavirus (COVID-19). and Important information to keep you safe while isolating at home
If you develop symptoms of coronavirus while you are self-isolating after your positive lateral flow test, you must extend your isolation for 10 days from the start of symptoms.
You will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace following the positive test, please help control the spread of the virus by participating in the contact tracing.
If you have a positive lateral flow result you may qualify for self-isolation payments. You can find information about the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme here
If you need Coronavirus help or support, contact Somerset’s Coronavirus helpline on 0300 790 6275
More information and downloads
- Understanding lateral flow testing for people without symptoms – An explanation of the technology behind asymptomatic testing and the role these tests play in the national COVID-19 testing programme.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow home test kit instructions for throat and nose test
- How to do a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test at home – Find out how to do a COVID-19 rapid test at home for yourself (or someone else) and report the results. Rapid tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
- COVID-19 self-test help – Find out how to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) if you are asked to, and learn what help is available.
- NHS Testing for Coronavirus – Get a test to check if you have coronavirus, find out what testing involves and understand your test result.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested – Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested.
- Get a free PCR test to check if you have Coronavirus
- NHS test and trace: what to do if you are contacted – An overview of NHS Test and Trace, including what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.
- Age UK – information on test and trace
- Guidance for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person
- How tests and testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) work – The different types of tests and testing kits for COVID-19, and the specifications for manufacturers.
- Coronavirus antibody testing – Information about the government’s coronavirus antibody testing programme. Antibody tests are to check whether a person has had the virus.
- NHS COVID-19 app – Download this app to help control the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself and others.
Local information, graphics and guides
COVID-19 information in other languages
Diversity Voice also has lots of translated COVID-19 resources available
How to do a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test at home – guides in different formats and languages