Free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for COVID-19, for the general public, came to an end on the 31 March 2022, in line with the move to the Living with COVID-19 strategy.
People at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and eligible for treatments, will continue to get free tests to use if they develop symptoms, along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings.
Find out more about Changes to COVID-19 testing in England from 1 April 2022
Living safely with COVID-19
As we move to the next phase of the pandemic, we can all play our part in practicing safe behaviours, as we have been doing throughout the pandemic, to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
This can mean:
- Making sure you are fully vaccinated
- Making sure you take care to avoid others as much as possible if you have COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed COVID-19
- Considering wearing a face covering in crowded or enclosed spaces while infection rates are high
- Regular hand washing and good hygiene like covering our mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
All these behaviours can help to reduce the risk of infection and help us live safely with COVID-19.
You can also buy lateral flow tests (LFTs) if you are concerned about COVID-19 and are not eligible for free tests. Lateral flow testing is a fast and simple way for people to check that they are not spreading the virus without knowing. Research shows that LFTs are a reliable test for COVID-19. They give a quick result and do not need to be sent to a lab. Even if you are fully vaccinated, you could still catch the virus or pass it on without knowing, so this could be a consideration if you are visiting vulnerable or elderly family and friends.
You can find further information on NHS – Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19)
What to do if you feel unwell
Whilst there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate, if you test positive for COVID-19 with an LFD or PCR test, or have symptoms, we still strongly advise you to try to stay at home if possible. And avoid contact with other people for five days, as this is the period when you will be most infectious. Advice will be provided for individuals who need to leave their home when they have symptoms or have tested positive. This includes avoiding close contact with people with a weakened immune system, wearing a face-covering and avoiding crowded place.
People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 – Guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19, or a positive test result for COVID-19.
Eligibility for symptomatic testing (for people who have symptoms)
The following groups will be eligible for symptomatic testing from 1 April 2022:
- Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and to support ongoing clinical surveillance for new variants.
- People who are eligible for community COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. If you are in this group, you will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home to use if you develop symptoms. You will also be given instructions how to reorder tests using the GOV.UK website or NHS 119. If you test positive, you may then be eligible for antiviral treatment. Further information can be found here: COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk
- People living or working in some high-risk settings where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks. For example, staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes, and residents in care homes and extra care and supported living services, NHS workers and those working and living in hospices, and prisons and places of detention (including immigration removal centres).
Eligibility for Asymptomatic testing (for people who do not have symptoms)
From 1 April 2022, the general public will no longer be able to order test kits online or collect them from pharmacies. During periods of high prevalence of COVID, asymptomatic testing will be provided to:
- adult social care staff and a small number of visitors providing personal care
- hospice staff
- patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS-funded independent healthcare provision
- some staff in prisons and other places of detention, and some refuges and shelter
For testing in Adult Social Care services, more information can be found here.
If you need to test with an LFT, please see the table below for information on different types of LFTs.
|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|
More guidance on LFT testing can be found below
- How to do a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test – Find out how to do a rapid lateral flow test for COVID-19 and report the results. Rapid tests are only for people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
- 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.
- COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit instructions: throat and nose test – How to do a rapid throat and nose test for COVID-19 and report the results.
- COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit instructions: SureScreen – How to do a SureScreen rapid nose-only test for COVID-19 and report the results. Rapid tests show the result on a device that comes with the test.
- COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit instructions: Orient Gene – How to do an Orient Gene rapid nose-only test for COVID-19 and report the results. Rapid tests show the result on a device that comes with the test
Latest guidance and information on COVID-19 for settings
- Adult social care – Coronavirus (somersetprovidernetwork.org.uk)
- Education – COVID-19 School Toolkit | Support Services for Education
- Businesses and employees – The workplace testing scheme has now ended, 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 may choose 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 and related guidance if they wish to continue workforce testing using this route.
More information and downloads
Public Health England – Translations
Diversity Voice has lots of translated COVID-19 resources available
- NHS Testing for Coronavirus – Get a test to check if you have coronavirus, find out what testing involves and understand your test result.
- 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.
- COVID-19 PCR home test kit instructions – Find out how to do an NHS PCR test for COVID-19 at home and check if you need to register a test kit.
- How to do a COVID-19 Self Test (rapid antigen test) YouTube video – How to test yourself for coronavirus using a self-test rapid antigen test kit, as well as how to read your result and report it to the NHS.
- Coronavirus antibody testing – Information about the government’s coronavirus antibody testing programme. Antibody tests are to check whether a person has had the virus.
- Find help and support if you have long COVID – If you have long COVID there is a range of support available.
- Finding and choosing a private coronavirus (COVID-19) test provider – If you need to purchase a coronavirus (COVID-19) test from a private provider, you can find private test providers on this page.
- People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 – Guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19, or a positive test result for COVID-19.
- Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19 – Guidance for living safely with respiratory infections, including coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Ventilation to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 – Guidance on the ventilation of indoor spaces to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including coronavirus (COVID-19).