Community testing is only for people with no symptoms of COVID-19 (asymptomatic). It uses lateral flow antigen testing, which is easy to use and gives results in around an hour. The purpose of community testing is to pick up infections early, or where there are no obvious symptoms. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
Lateral flow antigen testing is recommended by the Department for Health and Social Care for use in people with no symptoms and who would otherwise not be tested for COVID-19.
The test detects the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.
Anyone receiving a positive test using a lateral flow device should take a PCR test to confirm the positive result. Book a PCR test by ringing 119 or going to NHS Test and Trace.
Lateral flow antigen testing has undergone extensive clinical evaluation and has been judged to be accurate and sensitive enough for asymptomatic community testing. As with all types of test it is not 100% accurate so a person testing negative can still be infectious. It is therefore vital to continue to maintain national guidelines on social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face coverings, and limit contact with others where possible.
Who is testing for?
People with no symptoms who come into contact with others should aim to take a test twice a week, roughly 3-4 days apart.
Children aged 2-16 can take a test but must be accompanied onsite by a parent/carer, who will administer and supervise the test. Children aged 2-10 can take a lateral flow test, but they are not recommended by Public Health England for regular use.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people should follow Government advice and remain at home wherever possible and avoid coming into contact with others to limit transmission opportunities.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or mask exempt and you judge you need to attend a test site for a test, please identify your status to the queue manager at any of our lateral flow testing sites.