UKHSA has announced that from 11 January in England, people who receive positive lateral flow device test results for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 rates remain high across the UK. Whilst levels of COVID-19 are high, most people with positive lateral flow results can be confident that they have COVID-19.
Lateral flow tests should be taken by people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. 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.
There are a few exceptions, however. 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 lateral flow 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.
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”.