Covid: How do you order a lateral flow test to your home? Risks and benefits explained

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In an attempt to keep the number of Covid cases down to a minimum, mass testing has been implemented across England while lockdown restrictions ease. How can you get one sent to your home? Rapid lateral flow tests can tell you whether you’ve got coronavirus or not – in under 30 minutes. The aim of Government is to tackle the asymptomatic chain of transmission, whereby carriers of the disease unwittingly pass on the virus to others.

If people get into the habit of checking whether they have Covid twice weekly, people can then take precautions if they test positive.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said regular testing was “one of the simplest and easiest ways we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe”.

Hancock continued: “Rapid testing will be one of our most effective weapons in tackling this virus and ensuring we can cautiously re-open our economy.”

The lateral flow tests involve a swab in the nose or mouth, but concerns over its accuracy have been highlighted.

Unlike the PCR test, which is still available to those presenting Covid symptoms, the rapid flow test isn’t sent to a laboratory.

One drawback of the rapid lateral flow test is that it can present false positives.

False positives involve people being told they have coronavirus when they do not.

The Government put the risk of false positives from the lateral flow tests between one in 1,000 and three in 10,000 people.

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To combat this, people who test positive for Covid with a lateral flow test are advised to then take a PCR test to confirm whether they have the disease.

Free packs of rapid lateral flow tests can be sent to your home if you reside in England.

One pack contains seven tests, which can be ordered daily to each household.

This free service only applies if:

  • You do not have coronavirus symptoms
  • You live in England
  • You’re 18 or older
  • You have not been told to self-isolate
  • You cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university (ask them for rapid lateral flow tests)

How to order a rapid lateral flow test

Rapid flow tests are available to order to your home on the government website.

Some pharmacies offer free rapid lateral flow tests – find your nearest collection point here.

Employers should also offer free lateral flow tests if you’re unable to work from home.

In addition, free natural flow tests can be ordered by calling 119 – lines are open daily from 7am to 11pm – if you can’t order it online.

The government advised people to “take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week – every three or four days”.

You are also able to report rapid lateral flow test results on the day you take the test.

If you or anyone in your household tests positive, you must:

  • Self-isolate immediately
  • Get a PCR test to confirm the result

This mass testing is hoping to identify those “one in three people with Covid [who] don’t have symptoms”.

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