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Coronavirus: twice-weekly rapid testing for everyone

Restrictions are starting to ease, but you must still remember: Hands. Face. Space. Fresh air. Check the current rules.

Free rapid coronavirus testing is now available for everyone in England. Testing yourself twice a week will help us to stop the spread of the virus, and get back to a more normal way of life.

We know that 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus do not have any symptoms, and can pass the virus on without knowing. Regular testing for people who do not have symptoms can help stop this. Getting tested twice a week does not mean you can stop following the rules, even if your result is negative.

Twice-weekly rapid testing is an important part of being able to keep easing restrictions. The test is easy to do, and can give results in 30 minutes.

This kind of testing does not replace testing for people with symptoms (PCR tests). If you or anyone in your household have symptoms of coronavirus, you must all self-isolate (including children). The person with symptoms should book a test online or by calling 119.

Where to get tests

Community testing sites

You can get tested at one of our three community testing sites. You'll need to book an appointment online.

Your results will reported automatically.

Test collection

You can collect a test kit at Cannon Park, Printworks car park on Woodlands Road, or Pallister Park car park. All sites are open from 2:30pm to 8pm. Do not go outside of these hours as the site will be testing people with coronavirus symptoms.

You can also collect test kits from a pharmacy. Find a pharmacy which offers test kits.

You'll need to report your results via GOV.UK. The test kit will tell you how to do this.

Home delivery

If you cannot get to a test kit collection point, you can have them delivered to your home. Order test kits online now.

If you're already getting tested

If you already get tested at your workplace, you should carry on doing this. If you have a child who gets test kits from their school or college, they should carry on doing this.

What the results will be

If you test positive, you should:

A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. However this does not guarantee that you do not have the virus, so you should keep following the latest coronavirus advice: hands, face, space, fresh air.

FAQs

Everyone in England without symptoms. Secondary and college students can continue to get tests from schools and colleges.

No. Twice-weekly rapid testing is voluntary, but it's an extremely important way to protect yourself, loved ones, colleagues, and your community. Acting like you’ve got the virus and testing yourself twice a week will help us to return to a more normal way of life.

For rapid testing to be effective, it needs to become a regular habit. A negative result only gives a picture of today.

People will not be paid to take a test.

Lateral flow tests are proven technology. They are safe, inexpensive, and trusted. Evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show lateral flow rests are specific and sensitive enough to be used for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people (people without symptoms).

It takes less than 15 minutes to do the test.

You do not need training to use a home test kit. They come with written instructions, and there are also supporting materials online to guide you through taking the test.

The test gives a result within 30 minutes.

If you take your test at a community testing site, your result will be sent to you via text and/or email. Results will be sent within a day of the test at the latest.

If you take your test at home, you'll need to follow the instructions in the kit.

For tests taken on site (community testing), results are automatically reported by the site staff.

For home tests, each test comes with instructions on how to report a test result via GOV.UK. If you test positive, you must tell your employer and dispose of your test safely.

If you get a positive result, it is likely that you had coronavirus and were infectious at the time the test was taken.

The test cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus in a sample, so if you have only recently been infected, are in the incubation period, or if you have mostly recovered, the test may not give a positive result.

After a positive LFD result, you and everyone you live with must self isolate immediately for 10 days. You should arrange a follow-up test (PCR test) immediately. You can book a test online or by calling 119. Only leave home to go for your follow-up test.

If the PCR test is positive, you must follow the standard self isolation rules. If the PCR test is negative, you can stop self isolating.

If you do not take the PCR test within 2 days, you and the people you live with will need to self isolate for the full 10 days.

A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. However this does not guarantee that you do not have the virus, so you should keep following the latest coronavirus advice: hands, face, space, fresh air.

Yes, but if your place of work or study provides an on-site testing service you should continue to use this.

Community testing sites

You can get tested at one of our three community testing sites. You'll need to book an appointment online. Your results will reported automatically.

Test collection

You can collect a test kit at Cannon Park, Printworks car park on Woodlands Road, or Pallister Park car park. All sites are open from 2:30pm to 8pm. Do not go outside of these hours as the site will be testing people with coronavirus symptoms.

You can also collect test kits from a pharmacy. Find a pharmacy which offers test kits.

You'll need to report your results via GOV.UK. The test kit will tell you how to do this.

Home delivery

If you cannot get to a test kit collection point, you can have them delivered to your home. Order test kits online now.

Twice-weekly testing is available to anyone in England, and you can order additional test kits for family members.

If your place of work or study offers an on-site testing service, you should continue to use this.

You must self isolate as soon as you get a positive result. Contact tracing will be triggered by a positive result, but will be stopped automatically if you get a negative PCR test after that (if the PCR test was taken within 2 days).

Individuals who have carried out an LFD at an asymptomatic testing site through community testing or workplace testing will be able to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment (subject to eligibility criteria) after getting a positive LFD result.

You must dispose of your used test using the plastic waste bag provided. It can be put in with your general household waste.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, continuous cough, or loss of / change in taste or smell), you can book a test online or by calling 119.

Lateral flow and PCR tests have different characteristics and different uses. PCR tests have higher sensitivity, but need to be processed in a laboratory. This means they're slower and more expensive, so they're better suited to specific-use cases, like people with symptoms.

Lateral flow tests have a lower sensitivity than PCR tests, but they give results far faster and do not need a lab. This means we can test far larger numbers of asymptomatic people (people without symptoms), and get them their test result faster than with PCR testing. This lets us find a large percentage of people who are infected and infectious, but who are not showing symptoms and are unaware of the fact that they're possibly spreading the virus.

By providing tests to your workers, you're helping to make sure that testing is available to groups who may not access testing otherwise.

Providing rapid testing for your workers is essential to help stop the virus spreading between workers, customers, and your communities. By offering your workers tests to complete in the workplace or collect and use at home, you're making it as easy as possible for them to test and report twice a week.

Testing is vital to the resilience of your organisation. It allows cases to be caught early before they spread, impacting the health and wellbeing of your workforce. As an employer, encouraging twice-weekly workplace testing is one of several measures to help give you the confidence that you're providing a safe and secure workplace, which protects the health of your workers and customers. Regular testing can ensure business continuity and limit the potential impact of future infection outbreaks.

Offering workplace testing will build confidence among employees returning to the workplace, and show that you're committed to supporting their safe return to the workplace.

Why don't I just give everyone tests to do at home instead of maintaining a testing site?

Collect options are additional routes to support you where it isn’t practical to set up a rapid testing site. The government is clear that on-site testing will continue to be a primary testing channel, and encourage you to set up workplace testing sites where possible. However, home testing is accurate and effective at detecting the virus in people without symptoms. Tests performed at a testing site are more accurate as the tests are performed under supervision, while contact tracing for on-site testing is started immediately unlike for self testing. The testing regime and rules are observable, which provides others with assurance that testing has been carried out. The data can also be captured directly, in a more reliable fashion and in a shorter time frame rather than requiring each person to register their own test results.

The vaccine is offering hope that an easing of national restrictions may soon be possible. Over 30m people have received their first dose of the vaccine and roll out continues at pace. Vaccines will protect us in the longer term, and clinical trial evidence demonstrates that the vaccine reduces clinically severe infection and severe disease, but it’s still too soon to know how the vaccine will impact rates of infection, transmission, or variants of concern. And it will be several months before the vaccine has been offered to all adults.

Not all those offered the vaccine will take it up and there are some groups, such as children, for whom the vaccine is not yet authorised. Even when vaccinated, there is still a chance people can contract the virus and pass it on. No vaccine is 100% effective.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, don’t realise they’re infected, and are therefore unlikely to get tested or self isolate. This means they can spread the virus around workplaces without knowing it. Regular, rapid testing plays a critical role in safer working, stopping the spread of the virus, and is key to breaking the chains of transmission.