Covid-19 Tests and when to take them

Keeping those around us safe from Covid-19 is everyone’s top priority, and with restrictions lifted, it’s important to remember the virus is still with us and what to do if you experience symptoms.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, you must take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test either at a local testing site or by ordering one to be sent to your home. Lateral flow tests, sometimes called rapid tests, are not replacements for PCR tests. If you have symptoms that you think might be COVID-19, do not use a lateral flow test, arrange a PCR test.

When to take a PCR test

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, these could include;
    • A high temperature
    • A new, continuous cough
    • Loss or change to taste or smell
  • If you have had a positive result on a lateral flow test
  • If you have had an inconclusive PCR test result

When to take a lateral flow test

  • Regularly if you have no symptoms.

Lateral flow tests help to identify those who could be spreading the disease without knowing they have it, with up to one in three people experiencing no symptoms at all. They help to prevent many additional people becoming infected over time by quickly identifying hidden cases. Lateral flow tests work similarly to pregnancy tests and will usually show a result within 30 minutes.

PCR tests are processed in labs and could take up to 72 hours to get results, however most results are returned the next day.