All new lateral flow rules explained

NEW side-streaming rules are coming soon, with changes going into effect from Tuesday.

From January 11, you will not have to do PCR if you test positive in the lateral flow and are asymptomatic.

Anyone who tests positive for lateral flow without symptoms will not need follow-up PCR


Anyone who tests positive for lateral flow without symptoms will not need follow-up PCR

Changes are being made to ease some of the pressure on PCR tests and prevent any possibility of further spread.

The rules are quite simple – if you have a positive result about a lateral flow, you isolate and assume you have Covid.

If you don’t have symptom you don’t need to do anything else, other than record your results on the Government website.

Stay at home for the next week, only allowed to isolate if the test is negative on Friday and Saturday.

But you must continue to isolate if you continue to test positive for two consecutive tests, 24 hours apart.

Brits should use regular lateral flow, while Omicron is going viral – before going to events, meeting friends and just during the week.

You should always have a follow-up PCR test if you have symptoms of coronavirus, regardless of side flow test results.

The NHS lists the three classic signs of Covid as new persistent cough, high temperature and loss of smell or taste.

But many other symptoms including cold-like symptoms are now considered signs you may have the virus.

Experts have said that, if you feel unfit for any weather, take a test.

Dr Alexander Edwards, Associate Professor of Biomedical Technology, University of Reading, said: “The impetus for the UK system remains demanding. PCR Recent validation is likely to do with monitoring of viral variants, rather than confirming the original sideline results. “

There are several other exceptions to the rule change, as outlined by the Government:

  • those eligible for the £500 Test and Traceability Support Payment (TTSP) will still be required to do confirmatory PCR so they can access financial assistance
  • people participating in research or surveillance programs may still be required to have a follow-up PCR test
  • Around a million people in the UK at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid are taking part in new research into treatments.
  • In Wales, people in the “clinically vulnerable” category will still need PCR testing.


Dr Hayley Jones, Senior Lecturer in Health Statistics, University of Bristol, said: “Given the high levels of infection in the current population, it is reasonable to assume you are infectious if you have the results. positive side-flow test without PCR ‘confirmation’.

“But it is important to remember that the reverse is not true: a negative side-flow result does not guarantee that you do not have Covid-19 or that you are not contagious.

“So it’s important to do a PCR test if you have symptoms regardless of a negative lateral flow result.”

Given that lateral flow test results are almost always accurate for a positive outcome, it is not necessary to double-check with an NHS PCR test.

The PCR test is the leading standard of Covid testing and is available at drive-in points, stores and can be sent to the home. The lab gives the results in about 24 hours.

The lateral flow tests, on the other hand, are slightly less accurate and give results in less than 30 minutes. Also called “antigen tests,” they are done at home.

The most common symptoms of Covid revealed as Omicron dominates All new lateral flow rules explained


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