BRITS across the country have access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week to keep tabs on the virus.
The lateral flow tests are able to return results in just 30 minutes and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
While they are not 100 per cent accurate, they catch the most infectious cases, even if you don’t feel ill.
That means you can then stay at home and not infect anyone else, knowing to be careful.
Millions of schoolkids, their families and teachers alike have been taking the tests since schools reopened.
And people who work in sectors where you are not able to work from home are also advised to get tests, this includes NHS workers and care home staff.
What is a Covid lateral flow test?
A Covid lateral flow test uses a swab from a patient’s nose or throat to quickly determine if they are infected with coronavirus.
They are being used to check if people have the virus but are not showing symptoms.
It is hoped that by identifying these people, and asking them to isolate at home if they test positive, the virus will stop spreading as quickly.
Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.
How do I order and use a Covid lateral flow test?
Head online to this website – where you can request a pack of tests to use at home.
The testing kit comes with instructions and is fairly simple to use.
It first involves taking a swab of the throat and nose and dipping it into a solution.
This is then placed onto a paper pad on the device – that looks like a pregnancy stick.
Inside the device is a strip of test paper that changes colour if coronavirus proteins are in the sample.
Usually, one line next to the “C” means negative, two lines next to “C” and “T” means positive, and no lines or one next to “T” means the test is void.
How do I report my results?
Use this service to report your result to the NHS after using a rapid lateral flow test kit to check if you’re infectious with coronavirus (COVID-19).
Report the result every time you use a rapid lateral flow test kit and as soon as possible after you get the result.
You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours. You can only report one result at a time.
You need to have the barcode on the test strip or the ID number printed under it and a mobile phone number to get a test confirming the result.
It is the same for reporting your children’s results.
You can also report results to NHS Test and Trace on the same day they take it, either by inputting their results online or by calling 119.
How accurate is a Covid lateral flow test?
Lateral flow tests are not as reliable as the PCR tests used by the NHS.
The Department of Health says because the tests have been rigorously assessed by scientists, it means they are “accurate, reliable and successfully identify those with Covid-19 who don’t show symptoms”.
But the tests were not designed to look for Covid in people without symptoms, but for people who did have symptoms.
It means the results are not 100 per cent correct.
The Government website states that “when a person has low levels of virus in their system, lateral flow tests are less sensitive than some of the other tests we use, such as PCR tests”.
Can you buy a Covid lateral flow test?
Yes, you can buy Covid lateral flow tests online.
However, the accuracy of an online test kit that has not been approved by a regulator cannot be guaranteed and a test result could be incorrect.
How is lateral flow testing being used in schools?
Students in England will be tested for Covid-19 three times in the first two weeks of school.
After that, they’ll be given two tests each week to use at home.
Testing is voluntary and children will only be tested in school if a parent or carer has given consent.
The Government recommends, however, that anyone “going to a school or college premises,” or anyone who shares a bubble or household with someone who is “should also get tested”.
Pupils will not be stopped from returning to school if they do not agree to be tested, or are unable to take a test.
Staff or pupils who test positive should self-isolate.
If the test is done at home, they should also book a second test at a local test centre to confirm the result.
Boris Johnson said: “We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far.”
Government adviser Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said taking the tests will be “particularly important” in the coming weeks.
“We know lateral flow tests highlight the people who are most infectious and most likely to transmit the virus, and using these is way of finding asymptomatic people rapidly,” she said.
She admitted the tests are “uncomfortable” – but says her 12-year-old has taken several without issue.