From January 11 in England, people who receive positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately. They will not be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
This is a temporary measure while coronavirus (COVID-19) rates remain high across the UK.
Lateral flow tests are taken by people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Government says anyone who develops 1 of the 3 main COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test. They must self-isolate if they get a positive test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test – these rules have not changed.
Since mid-December, 100,000 more PCR booking slots have been made available per day and capacity continues to be rapidly expanded, with delivery capacity doubled to 900,000 PCR and LFD test kits a day.
Anyone who receives a positive LFD test result should report their result on GOV.UK and must self-isolate but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.
After reporting a positive LFD test result, people will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace so that their contacts can be traced.
There are a few exceptions to the revised approach.
People who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) will still be asked to take a confirmatory PCR if they receive a positive LFD result, to enable them to access financial support.
People participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR test, according to the research or surveillance protocol.
Around one million people in England who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 have been identified by the NHS as being potentially eligible for new treatments. They will be receiving a PCR test kit at home by mid-January to use if they develop symptoms or if they get a positive LFD result, as they may be eligible for new treatments if they receive a positive PCR result. This group should use these priority PCR tests when they have symptoms as it will enable prioritised laboratory handling.
Anyone who receives 2 negative LFD results, 24 hours apart, on days 6 and 7, can then leave isolation.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:”As Omicron cases continue to rise the demand for tests has grown rapidly across the globe. We’re putting plans in place to manage the demand for PCR tests in the UK so we can ensure that those who most need tests can continue to access them.”
People can order a PCR test on GOV.UK or by phoning 119.
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the government will provide 100,000 critical workers in England with free lateral flow tests to help keep essential services and supply chains running.
Critical workers will be able to take a test on every working day and the provision of precautionary testing will be for an initial 5 weeks. Roll-out will start from Monday, January 10.