Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, we have been working hard as a nation to help fight against the virus and protect one another from it. From obeying the rules of lockdown to following the different hygiene recommendations and quickly adapting to the latest safety measures as they have been introduced, it’s fair to say the UK has come a long way. With the vaccine development and deployment well underway at record-breaking speed, we are getting closer and closer to that much-hyped “normality”.
However, as the restrictions that have been in place longer than most of us thought to continue to be eased, we still need to make a collective effort or remain safe and continue the fight against Covid-19. M
This new part of our fight is having rapid testing, regularly. Most experts agree that in addition to any social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine measures in place and the vaccine rollout, that lateral flow testing is a key part of our roadmap towards breaking free of the chain of transmission.
Perhaps you have wondered why rapid testing is so important. In the following post, we hope to clear that up.
Why do We Need Rapid Testing?
Otherwise known as Lateral Flow Testing, rapid testing is vital in the fight against the virus because it can quickly and easily identify instances of the virus in people who do not have symptoms. When you consider that a conservative estimate is that there are around one in every three people who have the virus that does not present symptoms, you start to understand why being able to identify those cases as early as possible is important to slowing down and stopping Covid-19 from spreading.
By identifying just one case, a further instance can be prevented. There have already been many thousands of positive cases found through rapid testing, which has helped prevent further cases.
The great thing is that rapid testing conducted regularly not only helps to protect people around you, but it can also make a significant difference in tackling it in the wider population.
How Does Rapid Testing Work?
You may or may not realise this but if you have ever used a home pregnancy test, you have used the same technology behind rapid covid-19 tests. The testing kit is a similarly designed handheld device that consists of one end with an absorbent pad and the other with a window where you can read the results. On the inside, the tester has a strip of special paper that changes its colour when there is a presence of Covid antigens (proteins).
You take a swab sample from your nose and throat and then this is mixed with a special solution that is then applied onto the testing strip to produce a positive or negative reading. Results are ready in just 30 minutes and it doesn’t even need to be sent on to a lab. This means that anyone who has the virus can immediately self-isolate.
According to research conducted by both University of Oxford and Public Health England, lateral flow tests have been shown to pick up most cases during the most infectious stages of the virus.
Who is Eligible and How Can You Get Lateral Flow Tests for Covid-19?
Generally speaking, your school, college, university, or work should order rapid lateral flow test packs. If however, you are unable to get test packs that way, you can order them directly through Gov.UK if you meet the following criteria:
- You have no current symptoms of coronavirus
- You are aged 11 years or older
- You have not been already told that you need to self-isolate
- You are unable to get lateral flow tests from your place of work or university, college, or school.
Full instructions come with the testing pack, but if for whatever reason you lose or misplace them, you can find out full instructions on testing through the Gov.UK site.
Can You Use Later Flow Tests For Travel?
No, you are not allowed to use the results of a lateral flow test as proof of being free from the virus if you want to travel. You need to have a PCR test and can only get one suitable for travelling from a private testing facility, like Pure Testing.