Viral Detection tests

PCR/swab test and lateral flow tests for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Free access to PCR or rapid lateral flow tests is no longer available to most people in England. Only certain groups now have access to testing.

(The information immediately below is up to date and the sections/tabs below have also been updated. For a brief summary of what has changed read the changes to COVID-19 testing in England from 1 April).

Who can be tested?

In England, you can order tests if:

You can also order tests if:

People not in these groups will be able to buy tests to use at home. These are available at most pharmacies and other retail outlets including some supermarket chains. They can also be purchased via private test providers. 

The general government guidance on coronavirus is now concerned with the actions people can to take to protect others if they are unwell with a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and no longer includes information on or access to testing. Further information can be found in the people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 (opens in a new window).

For those who are eligible for free testing, information is now available in one place (opens in a new window) on how to access any test for coronavirus, including PCR tests, rapid lateral flow tests, antibody tests and getting test results.

Patients 

NHS Staff

Visiting hospital and other healthcare inpatient settings

Regular testing of NHS staff without symptoms of coronavirus

Testing after the vaccine

Testing for NHS professionals visiting care homes

Lateral flow device (LFD) asymptomatic staff testing at vaccination sites

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff, patients and visitors

Testing for patient-facing staff in Independent Health Providers in England

Quarantine arrangements for exempt nurses arriving from overseas

Coronavirus test kits: giving feedback or reporting harm

Guidance, testing and new treatments for people at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus

The NHS COVID Pass

Unique Organisation Number

Patients

(Please note: this section is under review and may be subject to some amendments).

Patients who are to undergo a pre-arranged hospital procedure or operation are required to take a coronavirus test before they are admitted to hospital.

Patients who are being admitted as part of their elective (pre-arranged) care for at least an overnight stay in hospital, and day-case patients (patients in and out of hospital on the same day) who are not fully vaccinated should use a lateral flow device (LFD) test. Patients should take the test 3 days (72 hours) before admission and patients should minimise contact with others between taking the test and attending hospital.

Wherever possible, patients should be given 10 days' notice, by letter, of the test and order their LFD test via the Gov.UK testing portal. Once taken patients should report their test result online at the Gov.UK COVID-19 result portal or by telephoning 119. Patients should bring proof of their recent negative test with them when they attend for their elective (pre-arranged) procedure or operation.

Positive test results should be reported immediately to the hospital/ward using the contact details provided in the letter confrming the elective (pre-arranged) procedure. The relevant clinical team can then assess the risk and the appropriate action to be taken and the patient will be notified accordingly.

Patients unable or failing to test in advance of admission will be tested on arrival at the hospital and the results logged in accordance with hospital procedures.

All patients requiring critical care following thier elective procedure, or other patients who are considered by their clinicians to be more at risk, should have a PCR test prior to admission. In these cases, the PCR test will be sent to the patient by the hospital and undertaken 3 days prior to admission. These patients will be strongly advised to isolate between taking the PCR test and their admission to hospital.

No COVID-19 test will be required for fully vaccinated day-case patients considered by their treating clinician to be low-risk.

Emergency admissions

All patients undergoing emergency admittance to hospital are PCR tested for coronavirus. If the test is negative, an LFD test will be undertaken 3 days after admission and another LFD test between 5-7 days following admission.

Patients without symptoms of coronavirus requiring emergency admission to a mental health unit, and NHS patients in mental health and learning disability units returning from a period of planned leave, should be tested using LFDs.

Women admitted to a labour ward or maternity unit should be tested as soon as is practical at the hospital site using PCR or rapid PCR tests. Birth partners should not be tested.

Hospital inpatients

All NHS patient, including paediatric patients, requiring a test by a clinician to support clinical decisions should be offered a PCR test as part of their usual diagnostic assessment. This includes patients who become symptomatic during a period of care.

Inpatients who have no symptoms of coronavirus should be tested on day 3 and days 5-7 of their stay using lateral flow devices. This also applies to asymptomatic patients in mental health and learning disability settings.

NHS patients in independent sector hospitals will also receive tests.

All patients on discharge to other care facilities, including care homes or hospices, should be tested by PCR and receive a test result within 48 hours before discharge from hospital. PCR testing is not required for patients previously testing positive with COVID-19 and who are within 90 days of symptoms onset or testing positive and have no new COVID-19 symptoms.

Inpatients with COVID-19

For inpatients with COVID-19, isolation should continue until 10 days after the onset of symptoms (or their first positive COVID-19 test if they do not have any symptoms), provided the clinical criteria below are met.

Clinical criteria:

 clinical improvement with at least some respiratory recovery

 absence of fever for 48 hours without the use of medication

 no underlying severe immunosuppression

A cough or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of smell or tasts (anosmia) may persist in some individuals for several weeks, and are not considered an indication of ongoing infection when other symptoms have resolved.

For clinically suspected COVID-19 patients who have tested negative and whose condition is severe enough to require hospitalisation, the isolation period should be measured from the day of admission.

Severely immunocompromised patients

It is possible for severely immunocompromised patients (patients with a weakened or poor immune system) to remain infectious for prolong periods, even if they do not display any symptoms of COVID-19. The isolation period for these patients whilst in hospital should be at least 14 days.

In severely immunocompromised patients the end of symptoms does not mean there is a decreased infectiousness and these patients should be isolated in side rooms, cubicles or grouped together until they have a negative PCR test. Staff should strictly adhere to recommended infectious prevention control measures throughout the inpatient stay.

Severely immunocompromised patients can end their isolation after a single negative PCR test result taken no earlier than 14 days after the onset of symptoms (or their first positive COVID-19 test if they do not have symptoms).

Severely immunocompromised patients who move beds within a hospital should be PCR tested prior to movement/transfer.

Inpatients to be Discharged to the Care Sector:

A PCR test will be undertaken within 48 hours prior to an individual's discharge into a care home, or a lateral flow test if the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

The test result should be shared with the individual themselves, their key relatives or advocate and the relevant care provider before discharge takes place.

If an individual tests positive prior to discharge, they can be admitted to the care home if the home is satisfied they can be cared for safely. The should be isolated on arrival for 10 days in their own room and follow the supplementary guidance on infection prevention and control for adult social care. Residents should be closely monitored and consideration given to their eligibility for COVID-19 treatments, including antivirals or monoclonal antibodies.

A patient being discharged home who has not been in hospital for COVID-19 or who has previously tested negative whilst in hospital, may be tested 48 hours prior to discharge if they will require repeated hospital day care or if a member of their household is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Visiting hospital and other healthcare inpatient settings:

Hospitals, mental health trusts, hospices and other healthcare inpatient settings must risk assess what visiting is possible in their circumstances. In most cases, visitors to hospital (including women and their birth partners attending for routine antenatal care, and end of life visitors) should not be tested. Before visiting, visitors should contact the ward department the inpatient is on to confirm visiting is permitted and should be informed about what to expect (i.e., social distancing, PPE and handwashing). The wearing of surgical face masks remains obligatory for all patients and visitors in all areas of all health settings.

 

NHS Staff

NHS staff with symptoms of a respriatory infection and a high temperature or who does not feel well enough to go to work, is advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

They should follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19.

Patient-facing healthcare staff who have symptoms or a respiratory infection and who have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to attend work, should take an LFD test as soon as they feel unwell. If the result is of this LFD test is positive, staff should follow the advice below (staff isolation after testing positive for COVID-19).

If the LFD test is negative, they can attend work if they are clinically well enough to do so and they do not have a high temperature. No further test is required.

If the staff member works with patients whos immune system meant that they are at higher risk of serious illness despite vaccination, they should discuss this with their line manager, who should undertake a risk assessment.

All patient-facing staff should resume asymptomatic LFD testing when they return to work, taking the first of these 48 hours after the LFD test that was teakn when they developed symptoms.

Staff isolation after testing positive for COVID-19

All healthcare staff who test positive, using LFD tests, regardless of whether they have symptoms, are advised not to attend work for 5 days. They should follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19

Patient-facing healthcare staff can return to work when they have had 2 consecutive negative LFD test results (taken at least 24 hours apart). The first test should only be taken 5 days after their symptoms started or the day their first positive was taken if they do not have symptoms (day 0).

If both the fifth and sixth-day LFD test results are negative, they may return to work on day 6 under the following conditions:

  • the staff member feels well enough to work, and they do not have a high temperature
  • ​​if the staff member works with patients whose immune system means that they are at higher risk of serious illness, ​​​​​despite vaccination, a risk assessment should be undertaken and consideration given to redeplyment until 10 days after symptoms started (or the day of their positive test if they did not have symptoms)
  • the staff member must continue to comply with all relevant infection control precautions and person protective equipment (PPE) must be worn properly throughout the day.
  • on days the staff member is working, the LFD test should be taken prior to beginning their shift, as close as possible to the start time.

The staff member should resume twice-weekly asymptomatic LFD testing when they return to work.

​​If the day 5 LFD test is positive, staff should continue daily testing until they have two negative LFD tests, taken 24 hours apart. If the test result is still positive on the 10th day, staff should discuss this with their line manager who may undertake a risk assessment.

A positive LFD test within 90 days of a prior positive COVID-19 test means staff members should follow the guidance outlined above for a positive test again, unless a clinical risk assessment suggests that a re-infection is unlikely.

If they have been admitted to hospital they should be isolated in hospital (or continue to self-isolate on discharge) for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or their first positive PCR test result if they do not have symptoms, provided the clinical criteria below are met.

Clinical criteria:

  • clinical improvement with at least some respiratory recovery
  • absence of fever (temperature greater than 37.8°C) for 48 hours without the use of medication
  • no underlying severe immunosuppression

Immunocompetent and severely immunocompromised staff who have been hospitalised will follow the same procedures and protocols as other (non-staff) COVID-19 cases, as identified in the patients section above.

Patient-facing healthcare staff who are identified as a close contact should continue with twice-weekly asymptomatic testing. It can take up to 10 days for an infection to develop.

​​​​​Staff who are identified as a household or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive COVID-19 test result should discuss ways to minimise risk of onwards transmission with their line manager.

This may include:

  • ​​​​​​redeployment to lower risk areas for patient-facing staff, especially if they work with patients whose immune system means that they are at higher risk
  • immune limiting close contact with other people, especially in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • working from home (non-patient-facing staff)

Staff should comply rigorously with all relevant infection control precautions.

 

Regular testing of NHS staff without symptoms of coronavirus

Patient-facing staff in all NHS Trusts (hospital, mental health/community and ambulance trusts) are strongly encouraged to undertake weekly tests for Covid-19. Lateral flow tests are now the primary method for weekly asymptomatic testing and are done twice a week. Staff must order their own lateral flow test kits online using the Gov.UK testing portal.

There are several LFD test kits available and they may be nose and throat swabs or nose only. The different kits require varying processes and process times (ranging from 15 to 30 minutes). Staff should ensure they read the instuctions of any kits they are unfamiliar with.

Asymptomatic testing should be resumed 48 hours after an LFD test taken because staff feel unwell or have symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19.

The LAMP saliva testing programme ended on 31 March and is no longer available. Please see the  saliva staff testing section of these webpages for more information.

The HiPRES app  originally used to record saliva test results (see link at the bottom of this section) can now be used to record LFD test results, both for staff who used it previously and staff new to the app.

A healthcare staff guide to using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) for asymptomatic testing of patient-facing staff in NHS Trusts and a lateral flow training video have been provided to NHS Trusts. These contain operating procedures for using LFDs and FAQs for staff. The test is voluntary but remains a vital tool in keeping staff, their loved ones, and the patients they care for safe, and reducing the spread of the virus.

Asymptomatic lateral flow devices are also being used by patient-facing staff in all sectors in Primary Care (GPs, pharmacists, and dental practices). The staff guide for asymptomatic testing of primary care staff also contains a standard operating procedure, FAQs, and a supporting video.

Using HiPRES to record your lateral flow test result

Testing after the vaccine

It is really important that you continue to test yourself even after having the vaccine. Although vaccinated people will have more protection from COVID-19, not enough is known about the vaccine’s impact on a person’s ability to transmit the virus. Everyone who has received the vaccine should also continue to follow all infection prevention and control measures. Together, this will help manage infections in hospitals and help protect other staff, and patients, as well as your friends and family.

Testing for NHS professionals visiting care homes

New guidance for testing professionals from NHS and other professions who visit care homes has been introduced. This requires all visiting professionals, including GPs, ambulance staff and community staff, to provide proof of a negative test within the last 72 hours (applicable to both LFD testing and saliva [LAMP] testing) or to have a negative lateral flow test taken at the care home, before being allowed to enter.

NHS professionals who are part of a regular testing regime should use this process to provide proof of a negative test. This can be done in a variety of ways, outlined in the guidance. If it has been more than 72 hours since the NHS professional was tested or the NHS professional is unable to provide proof, the care home should test the individual before entry to the care home. If for any reason this is not possible, it is the decision of the care home whether or not to admit the professional, taking into account the reason and urgency of the visit, unless the professional is required to enter by law.

Professionals who are not part of a regular testing regime will be given a rapid lateral flow test by the care home and must have a negative test result before gaining entry to the care home. If more than one care home is being visited on the same day, the test result from the first visit can be used as proof for any subsequent visits on that day.

This requirement does not apply in the case of an emergency or 999 visit to a care home, but all NHS professionals must follow their regular testing regime to reduce any risk from these visits.

This new testing regime is being introduced due to the substantial risks to care home residents if COVID-19 is introduced to the home. It is essential that professionals and all staff are tested regularly before visiting care homes to reduce the risk of transmission across different settings and to help keep residents and staff safe.

Lateral flow device (LFD) asymptomatic staff testing at vaccination sites

 

All staff at vaccination sites should be provided with access to LFD testing, including volunteers. All NHS staff already accessing LFD testing through their employer (primary care or secondary care) should continue to follow the routine testing already in place. NHS staff on temporary contracts at primary care network or community pharmacy-led vaccination centres should be given a box of 25 LFD tests and follow the primary care standard operating procedure for taking the tests. NHS staff on temporary contracts in hospital hub or large-scale vaccination centres should be given a box of 25 tests and follow the secondary care standard operation procedure for taking the tests.

Volunteers at any setting (PCN/pharmacy-led/hospital hub/large-scale site) should be tested on site at the beginning of their shift, either as an observed self-test or by trained vaccination centre staff. Reporting the results of tests is a statutory requirement and should be done immediately, using the NHS Digital online platform or, where access is available, via the host hospital trust's recording system. Positive tests require self-isolation and a confirmatory PCR test. Tests should be ordered through the relevant primary care or secondary care lead for the vaccination centre. The full operating procedures can be accessed here.

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff, patients and visitors

Hospice staff, including patient-facing volunteers, should take an LFD test at the beginning of each working week and another LFD test 3 or 4 days later. Staff returning from leave or sickness should ensure they restart the weekly testing programme.

Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 or any other respiratory infection and a high temperature should staff off work and take an LFD test on the day they feel unwell.

If the test is negative they should continue to stay off work and take another LFD test 48 hours later. If this test is negative they can return to work.

If any test is positive staff should stay at home and avoid contact with others and take an LFD test 5 days after they first tested positive or developed symptoms (day 0). If this test is negative and they have a second negative test 24 hours later they can return to work.

If they continue to test positive after 10 days they should continue taking LFD tests but can return to work after one negative test. If they remain positive after 14 days they can stop testing and return to work on day 15.

Managers can undertake a risk assessment for those testing positive after day 10 who are no longer unwell and do not have a temperature to assess whether they can return to work.

A positive test within the hospice for a member of staff or patient requires the hospice to order 'outbreak kits'  and test all staff for 5 days, and the hospice manager should contact their local health protection team.

Patients who are scheduled for admission form the community or a care facility are elgible for a PCR test, to be taken 72 hours before admission. They should also have an LFD test on the day of admission. Where an admission is urgent or unplanned and LFD test on the day of admission is sufficient.

Hospices must use their unique organisation number (UON) to order test kits - this includes LFD tests for asymptomatic and symptomatic testing, outbreak kits and PCR tests for admissions.

Hospices should use Royal Mail priority post boxes to return PCR tests. They can view recorded webinars to support their testing.

Visitor testing is no longer required apart from visitors who provide close personal care for patients. These visitors must take an LFD test upon arrival at the hospice and show proof of a negative test before proceeding with the visit. The guidance provides the information in full, with all relevant links to ordering, webinars, testing, results etc. Hospices can call 119 with any queries or concerns.

Testing for patient-facing staff in Independent Health Providers in England

Independent Health Providers in England can order lateral flow device testing kits (LFDs) directly using the national testing portal to support the asymptomatic testing of patient-facing staff, in the same way as NHS staff. Staff should undertake twice-weekly testing. Positive tests require self-isolation for a minimum period of 5 days, with LFD tests on day 5 and day 6. If these are both negative, staff can return to work as long as they feel well enough, do not have a temperature, follow full IPC guidance and do not with those most at risk without a risk assessment by their line manager. The link below is used for staff to order their own test kits.

https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

 

Quarantine arrangements for exempt nurses arriving from overseas

There are no longer any restrictions or testing requirements for nurses or anyone travelling to England from abroad. The red list for countries from which travel is banned no longer applies.

Coronavirus test kits: giving feedback or reporting harm or reactions to a coronavirus test:

New guidance has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency to support all users to provide feedback about test kits, to report any damaged or missing elements of test kits or to report any harm or reaction from using the test kits. This applies to all types of home test kit - PCR, rapid lateral flow or saliva (LAMP) test kits. Each type of test kit has a feedback link within the guidance. Alternatively, you can provide feedback by calling 119. Feedback will be investigated by the UK Health Security Agency, the test kit manufacturer or a medical specialist, depending on how serious the feedback is.

Guidance, testing and new treatments for people at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus:

New guidance has been issued for people aged 12 and over whose immune system means they are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Immunosuppression means they have a weakened immune system due to having a particular health condition or because they are on medication or treatment that suppresses/weakens their immune system. The guidance is intended to keep people in these groups safe and identifies the conditions and circumstances that make someone eligible for an additional dose of vaccine or the new treatments for the immunosuppressed who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Most people in this group will receive a letter from the NHS nationally or from their care team, confirming they might benefit from treatments and what steps to take. If you are in this group a PCR test kit will be sent to your home, which should be kept in the event that you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone in this group who has not received a PCR test kit by 10 January should contact 119. If the PCR test is positive, you will be contacted to determine whether you will benefit from the new treatments. There is supporting guidance and instructions for using the PCR home test kit for people eligible for the new treatments is below right.

The NHS COVID Pass

For international travel people who live in England will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status to others, as proof of having received the full course of 2 doses of any approved vaccine - this is now called the NHS COVID Pass. This can be in:

·         digital form, either via the NHS website (you must log in) or by using the NHS app (which is free but different to the COVID app)

·         or in paper form, by requesting a letter via NHS.UK website or by calling the NHS helpline at 119 and requesting a letter.

You should wait at least 5 working days after receiving your second dose before calling 119 and expect the letter to take up to 7 working days to reach you.

Your NHS COVID Pass can be scanned to check and validate your COVID-19 vaccination status in venues in over 60 countries, including those in the EU. Booster vaccinations will show on the COVID Pass within 5 days. The NHS app can now also show test results in addition to your vacciantion status.

From 12 May 2022 the NHS COVID Pass ceased to be available. This means that venues or events can no longer request it as a condition of entry. 

Children aged 12 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel, but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to. The NHS COVID Pass for international travel can be stored in an Apple Wallet or Google Pay, even if the device is offline. Some children aged 5-15 who have had a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination can get an NHS COVID Pass letter for international travel.

There is additional guidance for if you cannot get an NHS COVID pass letter, which includes a BSL video about what to do if you cannot get a post-vaccination letter has now been added to the website. You should always check the Gov.UK foreign travel advice pages to see which countries may be requesting proof of vaccination or other requirements, such as testing, to travel abroad. The NHS app will now show COVID test results in addition to your vaccination status.

Unique Organisation Number

Organisations registered with the National Testing Programme (NTP), such as GP practices and care homes, will be issued with a Unique Organisation Number (UON) which will allow better quality data to be produced. Organisations will need to use this number going forward to order new tests kits, book a courier and to register completed test kits for results. The NTP will issue the UON to organisations. See below the links to the UON guide and the spreadsheet that allows 50 tests to be registered at the same time.

 

Unique Organisation Number and multiple registration guidance.

UON testing registration record of users testing spreadsheet.

This section contains testing information on the following:

Care Home Testing

Across the country, there are special arrangements in place for COVID-19 testing for adult social care, which allow care homes and other adult social care settings to test all its staff and residents, whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus.

These are available for all adult care homes, of any size or purpose.

Admissions to care homes

All new admissions to care homes, whether from interim care facilities, from another home or from the community, should take both of the following: a PCR test 72 hrs before admission (or a lateral flow test if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days) and a lateral flow test on the day of admission. 

These tests should be provided by the care home. If an individual tests positive on either of these tests and continues to be admitted to the care home, they should be isolated on arrival for a period of 10 days. They should take an LFD test 48 hours after their first test. If they remain positive they can take LFD tests from day 5 and can stop isolating if they have two consecutive negative tests, 24 hours apart, or after 10 days' isolation.

During any isolation period residents may be supported to visit the grounds of the care home without affecting the isolation period. Nominated essential care givers may still visit, even during the isolation period.

Admissions from hospital who have had an overnight stay for elective (planned care) are not required to self-isolate if they have not been in contact with someone who tests positive and have a negative test upon their return.

Other, longer stay admissions from hospital will be tested in the preceding 48 hours prior to their discharge from the hospital. Anyone testing positive will only be discharged to the care home if they can be accommodated safely, including self-isolating for up to 10 days in their own room.

The Government has revoked the requirement for those who work or visit a care home in a professional capacity to be fully vaccinated.

Applications for care home testing must be undertaken by care home managers.

Whole care home testing is available via the Care Home Testing digital portal. Care homes must be registered on the portal to access whole care home testing.

All care homes which have registered (using the care home digital portal), will need to follow the staff and resident testing programme. Once registered, which requires the care homes Unique Organisation Number, each care home will be sent the requisite number of testing kits to fulfil the retesting of the whole care home each month (every 28 days).

All staff and resident-care volunteers must take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week, 3 to 4 days apart.

Staff with symptoms and PCR testing:

Staff with symptoms should not be tested in the care home.

Staff with symptoms should go home and take an LFD test. If this is negative they should take a further test 48 hrs later and self-isolate until the tests have been done. If the second test is negative they can return to work.

If the test is negative but the member of staff has a temperature and feels unwell, then feels better on the following day, a risk assessment should be undertaken to determine whether they may return to work (considering the risk to service delivery and the risk to residents/staff at a higher risk of serious illness). If they are allowed to return to work they should follow IPC/PPE guidance, avoid contact with those at higher risk and take another LFD test 48 hours after the first test.

Staff who test positive should stay at home for a minimum period of 5 days. From day 5 they can take LFD tests and may return to work when they receive 2 consecutive negative tests, 24 hours apart and if they do not have a high temperature. If they care for residents who are at higher risk their line manager should conduct a risk assessment and consideration be given to redeployment until 10 days after symptoms started or the first positive test result.

Staff returning to work must continue to comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE must be worn properly throughout the day

The likelihood of a positive LFD test in the absence of a high temperature after 10 days is low. If the LFD test result is positive on the 10th day, staff should continue to take daily LFD tests, and can return to work after a single negative LFD test result.

The likelihood of a positive LFD test after 14 days is considerably lower. If the LFD test result is still positive on the 14th day, staff can stop testing and return to work on day 15. For staff who work with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment.

Managers can undertake a risk assessment of staff who test positive between 10 and 14 days and who do not have a high temperature, with a view to them returning to work depending on the work environment. Staff should report their absence and covid test result in line with the employer’s sickness absence policy.

Close contacts of someone who has tested positive:

Staff who are contacts of confirmed cases can continue working. They should comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be worn properly throughout the day. They no longer need to undertake any additional testing, and instead should continue their usual testing regime.

If the staff member develops symptoms, they should follow the guidance for staff with symptoms (see above).

If the staff member works with people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (seek clinical advice as necessary), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment during the 10 days following their last contact with the case.

Outbreak testing

Care homes with a positive test or with a new outbreak (two positive tests within a 14-day period) must contact their local Health Protection Team (HPT) in the first instance (see the guidance for Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social  care services). Staff should conduct daily rapid LFD tests every day for 5 days.

Where the HPT team have confirmed it is an outbreak, all staff and residents should have both a PCR and LFD test on day one, and a further PCR and LFD test between days 4-7, if the first PCR test is negative (the LFD tests allow immediate tracing of the spread of infectious while waiting for PCR test results).

Care homes should follow guidance issued by the Director of Public Health and/or the HPT during an outbreak, and this may include restricting staff movement between care homes during this period.

After the first week of outbreak testing is completed staff should continue to undertake twice-weekly testing. Once there has been at least 10 days with no new positive tests or individuals developing symptoms, outbreak recovery testing can be undertaken. This requires all staff and residents to take a PCR test - if these are all negative the HPT will advise that outbreak testing can be ended and the normal testing regime resumed.

If there continue to be positive test results the HPT may advice that outbreak restrictions should continue until there are no positive tests.

 

Delivery of testing kits to care homes

The Government has put in a schedule for the delivery of test kits to care homes. 

This is identified below:

  • By registering on the portal, care homes tell the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that they would like to carry out whole care home testing and that they want to be sent test kits.
  • The testing kits are not sent out on a first come first served basis but follow a priority listing -

1) care homes referred by PHE because they have had a new outbreak,

2) then care homes that have over 50 beds, then those with 25-50 beds

3) and then all other care homes.

The delivery of test kits to care homes follows a priority schedule and is not on a first come first served basis.

Care homes referred by PHE, usually because of a new outbreak, take priority. Care homes with a new outbreak should contact their local Health Protection Team.

Care homes considered to be having an outbreak will receive rapid testing and retesting through the local Health Protection Team. There are two types of testing kit.

To support care homes in undertaking whole care home testing the DHSC currently host webinars on the whole home testing process every morning.  Care homes can register to access the webinar here.

There is a dedicated mail inbox for dealing with any queries about the care home testing process or with the operation of the portal. This is OpsHub@dhsc.gov.uk and wherever possible, queries should be directed to this inbox.

Care homes are encouraged to re-test their staff and residents on a regular basis. All care homes can now register for retesting, using the same whole care testing portal https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home.

By registering for retesting care homes commit to whole care home retesting and subsequent testing of staff (including bank/agency staff) each week. Care homes will need to reorder their testing kits each month. 

Alternatively, you can contact the Coronavirus Testing Call Centre on 0300 303 2713. It is open from 07:00 to 23:00 every day.

Staff who have previously tested positive are exempt from taking a PCR/swab retest for a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset, unless they develop new coronavirus symptoms. 

 

Visiting Care Homes:

There should not usually be any restrictions on visits to or out of a care home. Where visiting is modified during an outbreak of COVID-19 or where a care home resident has confirmed COVID-19, every resident should be enabled to continue to receive one visitor inside the care home. End-of-life visiting should always be supported, and testing is not required in any circumstances for an end-of-life visit.

Visitors should not enter the care home if they are unwell, even if they are fully vaccinated, as various illnesses, in addition to COVID-19, can be dangerous to care home residents, including norovirus, diarrhea, vomiting and other transmissable viruses and infections. Visitors should stay away from care homes until at least 5 days after they feel better.

Where a visitor provides personal care, they should wear appropriate PPE and take an LFD test before entering a care home. Proof of the negative test must be shown before entry.

Care home residents are no longer required to self-isolate following high-risk visits out of the care home, including following emergency hospital stays.

All visitors to a care home should wear a fask mask in addition to any other PPE required.

Visiting professionals

The above also applies to professionals visiting care homes. Any professionals providing personal care need to take an LFD tests, as above, and show proof before entering the care home.

NHS professionals who visit care homes (including GPs, ambulance staff, community nursing staff) need to provide proof of a negative test within the last 72 hours or to have a negative lateral flow test taken at the care home, before being allowed to enter.

NHS and other professionals who are part of a regular testing regime should use this process to provide proof of a negative test. This can be done in a variety of ways, outlined in the guidance. If it has been more than 72 hours since the professional visitor was tested or the professional is unable to provide proof, the care home should test the individual before entry to the care home. If for any reason this is not possible, it is the decision of the care home whether or not to admit the professional, taking into account the reason and urgency of the visit, unless the professional is required to enter by law.

Professionals who are not part of a regular testing regime will be given a rapid lateral flow test by the care home and must have a negative test result before gaining entry to the care home. If more than one care home is being visited on the same day, the test result from the first visit can be used as proof for any subsequent visits on that day.

This requirement does not apply in the case of an emergency or 999 visit to a care home, but all related NHS professionals must follow their testing regime to reduce any risk from these visits.

 

Lateral flow testing in adult social care settings:

New guidance on testing for adult social care services has been issued which covers testing in all adult social care settings, including care homes (as above) homecare organisations, extra care and supported living services, adult day care centres, personal assistants, Shared Lives carers and social workers.

The guidance provides the step-by-step process for preparing and managing asymptomatic lateral flow testing for adult social care settings and includes information on ordering, registering and reporting testing of staff.

All people being tested must provide their consent and need to be made aware of the Unique Organisation Number (UON) which is used to re-order test kits and to register test results for all settings apart from personal assistants, Shared Lives carers and social workers, who do not require a UON.

All social care staff eligible for free asymptomatic testing should conduct 2 LFD tests per week, taking them before they begin work, spaced 3 ot 4 days apart. This also applies to care workers who live with the individual they provide care and support for. This is the testing regime for all the settings covered below.

 

Asymptomatic testing of homecare providers:

All CQC registered homecare agencies, looking after people in their own homes, have been contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their domiciliary homecare workers to conduct asymptomatic self-testing at home.

Homecare agencies are responsible for ordering and distributing tests. Agency managers will have received the Unique Organisaton Number (UON) which they must use to re-order test kits for their carers every 28 days. Tests will be delivered to the address registered to the UON. Any queries should be raised by contacting 119.

Test results should also be reported online, using the UON (managers can register them in bulk using the multiple upload spreadsheet). Staff can use the Digital Reader to read LFD test results where this has been made available.

Regular asymptomatic testing of eligible Extra Care and Supported Living Settings 

Extra care and supported living settings are eligble for free asymptomatic testing if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) that they are a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people

2) it is a setting where the majority of residents (more than 50%) receive the kind of personal care that is CQC regulated (rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping).

To order tests all settings must use the self-referral portal. Referrals are sent to local authorities for approval, based on the eligibility criteria and, if confirmed, providers can then order test kits in line with the guidance.

Staff should conduct 2 LFD tests per week, 3 or 4 days apart, before they begin work, as notified above.

If your setting meets both criteria above, it is classified as a high-risk extra care and supported living setting. If one or more positive cases (staff or residents) are found in a high-risk setting then all staff should conduct daily rapid LFD testing every day that they are working, for 5 days. This is not extended if further positive are found within the 5 days.

Only the staff working in the setting over the rapid response testing period need to be tested; those not working during this period do not need to be tested. You should not bring people into work to get tested on their non-working days.

Free symptomatic testing is available for residents (as well as staff) in extra care and supported living settings which meet one or both of the criteria above.

 

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff and patients:

Hospice staff, including patient-facing volunteers, should take an LFD test at the beginning of each working week and another LFD test 3 or 4 days later. Staff returning from leave or sickness should ensure they restart the weekly testing programme.

Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 or any other respiratory infection and a high temperature should staff off work and take an LFD test on the day they feel unwell.

If the test is negative they should continue to stay off work and take another LFD test 48 hours later. If this test is negative they can return to work.

If any test is positive staff should stay at home and avoid contact with others and take an LFD test 5 days after they first tested positive or developed symptoms (day 0). If this test is negative and they have a second negative test 24 hours later they can return to work.

If they continue to test positive after 10 days they should continue taking LFD tests but can return to work after one negative test. If they remain positive after 14 days they can stop testing and return to work on day 15.

Managers can undertake a risk assessment for those testing positive after day 10 who are no longer unwell and do not have a temperature to assess whether they can return to work.

A positive test within the hospice for a member of staff or patient requires the hospice to order 'outbreak kits'  and test all staff for 5 days, and the hospice manager should contact their local health protection team.

Patients who are scheduled for admission from the community or a care facility are elgible for a PCR test, to be taken 72 hours before admission. They should also have an LFD test on the day of admission. Where an admission is urgent or unplanned and LFD test on the day of admission is sufficient.

Hospices must use their unique organisation number (UON) to order test kits - this includes LFD tests for asymptomatic and symptomatic testing, outbreak kits and PCR tests for admissions.

Hospices should use Royal Mail priority post boxes to return PCR tests. They can view recorded webinars to support their testing.

Visitor testing is no longer required apart from visitors who provide close personal care for patients. These visitors must take an LFD test upon arrival at the hospice and show proof of a negative test before proceeding with the visit. The guidance provides the information in full, with all relevant links to ordering, webinars, testing, results etc. Hospices can call 119 with any queries or concerns.

Personal assistants,Shared Lives carers and social workers:

Personal assistants, Shared Lives carers and social workers are also eligible for free asymptomatic testing using lateral flow devices.

Personal assistants are eligble if they are directly employed by an individual (or self-employed) to provide care and support to an adult to enable them to live as independently as possible. This care could include support in the home, or to go out into the community.

Shared Lives carers are eligble if they are working with a regulated Shared Lives scheme to provide care and support to an adult to enable them to live as independently as possible. This includes both carers who live with the person they support and those who live separately.

Social workers are eligible if they work with adults requiring support for their health, wellbeing and social care needs and are regulated by Social Work England.

In all settings staff should conduct 2 LFD tests per week, taking them before they begin work, spaced 3 or 4 days apart. Staff who only work 2 days a week should take the tests on these days before beginning work.

Personal assistants, Shared Lives carers and social workers should order tests via the online government portal. You do not need a UON.

Please do not access tests through this route if you are already part of a regular testing regime at work.

You can choose which address your test kits are delivered to. Once you have placed an order, you'll receive a confirmatory email.

If you have any issues with ordering test kits, please call the national COVID-19 contact centre on 119.

LFT testing for day care centre staff ​​

Day care centres are eligible if they are run by paid care staff. Services must be for adults over 18 and must be profided within non-residential care settings that support the health and wellbeing of adults. These include purpose-built day care centres,those attached to or part of a care home or supported living setting and other buildings in communities specifically used for regular adult day care.

Managers must register their day care centre on the sef-referral portal in order to receive their Unique Organisation Number (UON), which they use to order test kits. As in other settings, the UON is used to report test results and centre managers can register them in bulk using the multiple upload spreadsheet.

As with other social care settings, LFD tests should be conducted twice-weekly, before beginning work, 3 or 4 days apart.

Staff in social care settings who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19

The information below applies to all staff in social care settings eligible for free asymptomatic LFD testing.

If a member of staff tests negative they should take another test 48 hours later and remain at home until they receive the second negative test result. They may return to work following the second negative test.

If a member of staff tests negative but has a high temperature or does not feel well enough to attend work, then feels better the following day, a risk assessment should be undertaken to determine the risk to service delivery and the risk to vulnerable residents/staff. If the staff member is allowed to return to work in these circumstances they should avoid contact with those at risk, follow infection control/PPE requirements and take another LFD test 48 hours later. 

If the first LFD test result is positive, staff should follow the advice regarding staying at home and avoiding contact with other people from the day they test positive or develop symptoms. This is called day 0. There is no need to take a PCR test after a positive lateral flow test result.

In addition, social care staff with COVID-19 should not attend work until they have had 2 consecutive negative lateral flow test results (taken at least 24 hours apart), they feel well and they do not have a high temperature. The first lateral flow test should only be taken 5 days after day 0 (the day their symptoms started, or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms). If both lateral flow results are negative, they may return to work immediately after the second negative lateral flow test result on day 6, as long as their symptoms have resolved, or their only symptoms are a cough or anosmia, which can last for several weeks.

If the staff member cares for people who are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19, a careful assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment until 10 days after their symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms). The staff member should continue to comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be worn properly throughout the day.

A positive lateral flow test in the absence of a high temperature after 10 days is unlikely. If the staff member's lateral flow test result remains positive on the 10th day, they should continue to take daily lateral flow tests. They can then return to work after a single negative lateral flow test result.

The likelihood of a positive lateral flow test after 14 days is considerably lower. If the staff member's lateral flow test result is still positive on the 14th day, they can stop testing and return to work on day 15. If the staff member works with people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 (seek clinical advice as necessary), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment.

Managers can undertake a risk assessment of staff who test positive between 10 and 14 days and who do not have a high temperature or feel unwell, with a view to them returning to work depending on the work environment.

If a staff member has returned to work after testing positive for COVID-19, they should resume routine LFD testing, even if this is within 90 days of the positive COVID-19 test result. If staff are tested with an LFD test within 90 days of a prior positive LFD or PCR test and the result is positive, staff should stay at home (see COVID-19 supplement to the IPC resource for adult social care), unless a clinical or risk assessment suggests that re-infection is unlikely. This risk assessent should inform subsequent action including whether isolation is required.

Residents in extra care and supported living settings are also eligible for free symptomatic testing. They should take an LFD test as soon as they develop symptoms and take another 48 hours later. They should follow the general guidance for all people who have coronavirus and try to aoid contact with others for 5 days. Providers may choose to follow the guidance outlined above for care home residents if they wish.

 

Guidance for providers of accommodation for asylum seekers

Providers of accommodation for asylum seekers should ensure measures are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus and ensure residents are aware of and understand these measures. Face coverings are recommended in crowded and enclosed spaces and providers should facilitate and encourage the vaccination of staff and residents. Providers should work closely with local public health teams and the local Director of Public Health.

Accommodation providers should facilitate twice weekly testing for staff and residents. Additional LFD tests are encouraged during periods or days of high risk.

Asylum seekers who are new arrivals should follow the recommended testing and quarantine protocols followed by all other international arrivals. It is important to ascertain whether new arrivals have passed through a red list country in the last 10 days. Where there is uncertainty, asylum seekers should be considered to have passed through a red list country and follow the appropriate testing and quarantine requirements in a managed quarantine hotel or equivalent facility.

New arrivals should be asked about coronavirus symptoms and any asylum seekers with symptoms should follow the applicable testing and self-isolation requirements.

Where asylum seekers can demonstrate they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine they should isolate and take a PCR test before or on day 2 of their arrival. They must continue to self-isolate if the test is positive.

Asylum seekers who are not vaccinated and have not been through a red list country should take an initial LFD test as soon as possible. If this is positive they should take a confirmatory PCR test and isolate for 10 days if this is positive.

If the initial LFD test is negative asylum seekers should continue to self-isolate and take PCR tests on or before day 2 and day 8. If any of these tests are positive they should self-isolate for a further 10 days from the day of the positive test.

Asylum seekers should not move on to new accommodation until their self-isolation period is complete.

Coronavirus test kits: giving feedback or reporting harm or reactions to a coronavirus test:

New guidance has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency to support all users to provide feedback about test kits, to report any damaged or missing elements of test kits or to report any harm or reaction from using the test kits. This applies to all types of home test kit - PCR, rapid lateral flow or saliva (LAMP) test kits. Each type of test kit has a feedback link within the guidance. Alternatively, you can provide feedback by calling 119. Feedback will be investigated by the UK Health Security Agency, the test kit manufacturer or a medical specialist, depending on how serious the feedback is.

Guidance, testing and new treatments for people at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus:

New guidance has been issued for people aged 12 and over whose immune system means they are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Immunosuppression means they have a weakened immune system due to having a particular health condition or because they are on medication or treatment that suppresses/weakens their immune system. The guidance is intended to keep people in these groups safe and identifies the conditions and circumstances that make someone eligible for an additional dose of vaccine or the new treatments for the immunosuppressed who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Most people in this group will receive a letter from the NHS nationally or from their care team, confirming they might benefit from treatments and what steps to take. If you are in this group a PCR test kit will be sent to your home, which should be kept in the event that you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone in this group who has not received a PCR test kit by 10 January should contact 119. If the PCR test is positive, you will be contacted to determine whether you will benefit from the new treatments. There is supporting guidance and instructions for using the PCR home test kit for people eligible for the new treatments is below right.

The NHS COVID Pass

For international travel people who live in England will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status to others, as proof of having received the full course of 2 doses of any approved vaccine - this is now called the NHS COVID Pass. This can be in:

·         digital form, either via the NHS website (you must log in) or by using the NHS app (which is free but different to the COVID app)

·         or in paper form, by requesting a letter via NHS.UK website or by calling the NHS helpline at 119 and requesting a letter.

You should wait at least 5 working days after receiving your second dose before calling 119 and expect the letter to take up to 7 working days to reach you.

Your NHS COVID Pass can be scanned to check and validate your COVID-19 vaccination status in venues in over 60 countries, including those in the EU. Booster vaccinations will show on the COVID Pass within 5 days. The NHS app can now also show test results in addition to your vacciantion status.

From 12 May 2022 the NHS COVID Pass ceased to be available for use for domestic purposes. Venues and events can no longer use the COVID Pass as a condition of entry.

Children aged 12 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel, but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to. The NHS COVID Pass for international travel can be stored in an Apple Wallet and Google Pay, even if the devices are offline.

Some children aged 5 to 15 can now obtain a letter for international travel to indicate they have received their primary COVID vaccinations.

There is additional guidance for if you cannot get an NHS COVID pass letter, which includes a BSL video about what to do if you cannot get a post-vaccination letter has now been added to the website. You should always check the Gov.UK foreign travel advice pages to see which countries may be requesting proof of vaccination or other requirements, such as testing, to travel abroad. The NHS app will now show COVID test results in addition to your vaccination status.

Unique Organisation Number and multiple registration guidance

UON testing registration record of users testing spreadsheet.

This section contains testing information on the following:

Testing for the general public

Home testing

Workplace testing programme

The NHS COVID Pass

Coronavirus test kits: giving feedback or reporting harm

Guidance, testing and new treatments for people at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus

Testing for the general public ​​​

Free access to both symptomatic testing (using a PCR test) and testing for those without symptoms (usually using a lateral flow test [LFT] or lateral flow device [LFD]) have ended for most people in England. Only patients, residents in care homes and those most at risk continue to have access to free testing for COVID-19.

New guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19 has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency which provides advice and guidance on the actions people should take if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections, or who test positive for COVID-19. Other respiratory infections spread in the same way as coronavirus so the measures to protect yourself or others apply equally to this type of infection.

Following this guidance will help those at greater risk from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections: older people, those who are pregnant, those who are unvaccinated, people of any age whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness and people with certain long-term conditions.

Symptoms of COVID-19, flu and common respiratory infections include:

continuous cough

high temperature, fever or chills

loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

shortness of breath

unexplained tiredness, lack of energy

not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry

headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual

sore throat, stuffy or runny nose

diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick

If you are feeling unwell with these symptoms you should get plenty of rest and drink water to keep hydrated. You can use medications such as paracetamol to help with your symptoms.

If you have any of these symptos you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you no longer feel unwell. If you can, work from home. If this is not possible talk to your employer to see what options are available.

If you do leave home whilst you are unwell try to ensure you no not come into contact with those at higher risk of a serious illness. You can reduce the change of passing on your infection by:

wearing a close-fitting covering with multiple layers or a surgical face mask;

avoid crowded places, large social gatherings or anywhere that is enclose or poorly ventilated;

taking exercise in outside spaces;

follow good hygiene practices promoted during the pandemic (washing hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, before eating or handling food, avoid touching your face and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze).

Testing positive for COVID-19

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 should follow the advice outlined above for staying at home and reducing the spread of a respiratory infection. Many people who test positive will no longer be infectious after 5 days, so try and stay at home and avoid contact with others for 5 days after you tested positive.

You may want to ask friends or family to get food and other essentials for you. Should you still have a high temperature after 5 days, or still feel unwell, try to stay at home until the temperature has gone or you feel well enough to resume your normal routine.

You can reduce the spread of infection in your household by avoiding contact with others if possible, regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces, regular hand-washing and ventilating rooms you have been in for at least 10 minutes.

Children and young people are not recommended to take a COVID-19 test unless directed to by a health professional. Children and young people who do test positive should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for 3 days. If they don't have a temperature and feel well they can return to their normal routine/school (the risk of passing on COVID-19 is lower for younger people).

Adults who are close contacts to someone who has tested positive (you live in the same household or stayed with the overnight) should try to limit contact with those at higher risk of a serious illness, wear a face covering/surgical mask when in close contact with others or in an enclosed space and wash hands frequently. Children and young people who are close contacts can continue as normal.

More information is available with the Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19 guidance.

Home testing

If you have requested a home test kit this will be sent to you by post. Once received, home test kits must be registered before they are used. 

You can have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff to help you register and take a home coronavirus test. Download the free Be My Eyes app for IOS or for Android and go to the ‘specialised help’ section.

Detailed information and instructions have been provided on how to use a home testing kit. This now includes step by step guides for adults, children and the visually impaired. It also includes an easy read version and a tutorial video from Dr Amir Khan on how to use a home testing kit.  Home test kits are now available to those without internet or digital access by calling 119. 119 provides support in 200 languages and SignVideo is a free online British Sign Language interpreter service for 119.

Support from the RNIB for the blind and visually impaired is now available for those using home test kits, accessed via the national testing portal. The RNIB provide online support with home testing or can be called on 0303 123 9999 every day except Sunday.

Testing before a hospital procedure 

Anyone who is to undergo a planned hospital procedure is required to take an LFD test before they are admitted (unless identified as a low risk, day-case patient by your doctor/consultant). This will be done by the patient at home before their hospital admission. Patients must take the LFD test exactly 3 days before admission. The should report the result online or via 119. Patients must be able to show proof of a negative test when they arrive at the hospital and should try to avoid contact with others between taking the test and attending hospital.

Patients with a positive test result should contact the ward/hospital immediately. The hospital will assess the risk and determine what action to take.

Patients unable or failing to test in advance of admission will be tested on arrival at the hospital and the results logged in accordance with hospital procedures.

All patients requiring critical care following thier elective procedure, or other patients who are considered by their clinicians to be more at risk, should have a PCR test prior to admission. In these cases, the PCR test will be sent to the patient by the hospital and undertaken 3 days prior to admission. These patients will be strongly advised to isolate between taking the PCR test and their admission to hospital.

No COVID-19 test will be required for fully vaccinated day-case patients considered by their treating clinician to be low-risk.

Testing for people without symptoms (rapid lateral flow testing)

Most people in England no longer have access to free lateral flow tests. Anyone contacted and sent a rapid self-test kit will be sent full instructions.

There are now several types of LFD test (some are nose only, others throat and nose) so you should always check the instructions. New rapid lateral flow home test kit instructions for throat and nose test have been provided. Self-contained instructions, guides and translations are also available for the new nose only tests from ACON Flowflex and Orient Gene. These all contain links to RNIB, which provides the information on these tests in different formats. Test results should be available within 2 hours if it was done at a test site and within 30 minutes if done at home.

Once you receive a rapid test result you should report your result online or by telephone (call 119) (whether positive or negative) to the NHS.

(People may purchase their own lateral flow tests from pharmacies or supermarkets, either as invidual tests or in test packs. You should follow the instructions in the test kit provided. If you test positive you are recommended to test again on day 5 and day 6 after your positive test [the day of your test is day 0] and if these are both negative you are no longer likely to be infectious. This is the recommended testing process, but is no longer a requirement).

Workplace testing programme

Free COVID-19 tests for workplaces have now ceased. Workplaces should now either buy their own tests and set up their own workplace testing programme or pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for the workplace.

Information for employers on the gov.uk portal for workplace coronavirus tests confirms the current position on workplace testing and provides alternatives to employers unable to provide their own testing.

Additional guidance has also been issued to support employers and workforce managers to help them understand how to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu, in the workplace. The guidance includes reference to the symptoms of these infections, what to do if a member of staff has symptoms of a respiratory infection (including COVID-19) and the actions to reduce the spread of the infection. Updated guidance on ventilation to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 has also been issued.

The workplace testing guidance for private sector employers and third-party health providers, in addition to the registration portal, has another option for employee testing: this is using an accredited private sector third-party test provider. The guidance provides the various links to follow for each option.

The NHS COVID Pass

For international travel people who live in England will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status to others, as proof of having received the full course of 2 doses of any approved vaccine - this is now called the NHS COVID Pass. This can be in:

·         digital form, either via the NHS website (you must log in) or by using the NHS app (which is free but different to the COVID app)

·         or in paper form, by requesting a letter via NHS.UK website or by calling the NHS helpline at 119 and requesting a letter.

You should wait at least 5 working days after receiving your second dose before calling 119 and expect the letter to take up to 7 working days to reach you.

Your NHS COVID Pass can be scanned to check and validate your COVID-19 vaccination status in venues in over 60 countries, including those in the EU. Booster vaccinations will show on the COVID Pass within 5 days. The NHS app can now also show test results in addition to your vacciantion status.

From 12 May 2022 the NHS COVID Pass ceased to be available for domestic use. This means that venues or events will no longer be able to request it as a condition of entry.

Children aged 12 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel, but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to. The NHS COVID Pass for international travel can be stored in an Apple Wallet or Google Pay, even if the device is offline. Some children aged 5-15 who have had a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination can get an NHS COVID Pass letter for international travel.

There is additional guidance for if you cannot get an NHS COVID pass letter, which includes a BSL video about what to do if you cannot get a post-vaccination letter has now been added to the website. You should always check the Gov.UK foreign travel advice pages to see which countries may be requesting proof of vaccination or other requirements, such as testing, to travel abroad. The NHS app will now show COVID test results in addition to your vaccination status.

Coronavirus test kits: giving feedback or reporting harm or reactions to a coronavirus test:

New guidance has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency to support all users to provide feedback about test kits, to report any damaged or missing elements of test kits or to report any harm or reaction from using the test kits. This applies to all types of home test kit - PCR, rapid lateral flow or saliva (LAMP) test kits. Each type of test kit has a feedback link within the guidance. Alternatively, you can provide feedback by calling 119. Feedback will be investigated by the UK Health Security Agency, the test kit manufacturer or a medical specialist, depending on how serious the feedback is.

Guidance, testing and new treatments for people at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected with coronavirus:

New guidance has been issued for people aged 12 and over whose immune system means they are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Immunosuppression means they have a weakened immune system due to having a particular health condition or because they are on medication or treatment that suppresses/weakens their immune system. The guidance is intended to keep people in these groups safe and identifies the conditions and circumstances that make someone eligible for an additional dose of vaccine or the new treatments for the immunosuppressed who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Most people in this group will receive a letter from the NHS nationally or from their care team, confirming they might benefit from treatments and what steps to take. If you are in this group a PCR test kit will be sent to your home, which should be kept in the event that you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone in this group who has not received a PCR test kit by 10 January should contact 119. If the PCR test is positive, you will be contacted to determine whether you will benefit from the new treatments. There is supporting guidance and instructions for using the PCR home test kit for people eligible for the new treatments is below right.

Visits to and testing in prisons

The guidance on visiting someone in prison has been updated and although a negative LFD test is not required it is still recommended. Visits should not take place if the visitor is self-isolating or has symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, or has tested positive. Visitors to an adult prison must have at least one of the visitors aged over 18, be on the prisoner's visitor list, book the visit 24 hours in advance and have the required ID.

Partners, parents, siblings, children, foster-parents, grandparents, carer or significant others may visit someone in a young offender institute or secure training centre, but in addition adults living in the same household and social workers for looked after children may also visit.

A maximum of 3 visitors is allowed to people in prisons or detention centres, including children. Visitors must wear a face mask or face covering. Visitors testing positive must cancel their visit and self-isolate/avoid contacts.

Professional visitors should take an LFD test 24 hours before visiting the prison and the result must be negative.

Updated guidance on preventing and controlling outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons and places of detention has been issued. This identifies the testing and isolation systems that should be used for prisoners, detainees and staff. Wherever possible prisoners should be placed in protective isolation in single occupancy accommodation and be given an PCR test and continue to isolate until the result is known.

Staff at work who develop symptoms should put on a surgical mask immediately, inform their line manager and return home, self-isolate and get a PCR test. The guidance also covers asymptomatic testing, PPE, managing and reporting an outbreak and other aspects, including the availability of translation services.

Prisoners or detainees who are a close contact and fully vaccinated do not need to self-isolate for 10 days if they do not have symptoms, have a negative PCR test and take an LFD test every day for 6 days that must also be negative, and agree to wear a surgical face mask when out of their cell and do not mix with those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated prisoners/detainees should take a PCR test and if this is negative continue self-isolating and taking daily LFD tests. They can stop self-isolating if they have 3 consecutive negative LFD tests from day 6 of their isolation.

Similarly, staff do not need to self-isolate if a close contact but if they are continuing to work they are recommended to take a PCR test, undertake an LFD test every day for 7 days, which on working days should be taken before starting their shift, and comply with all PPE requirements, avoiding contact with vulnerable prisoners. If a test is positive, staff should self-isolate for 10 days.

Both staff and prisoners/detainees who have tested positive for COVID-19 may end self-isolation early if they get two negative LFD tests, 24 hours apart, on and not before day 5 and day 6 of their isolation period. Staff should not have a fever and must continue daily LFD testing for the full 10 days, comply with all PPE/infection control measures and be risk assessed if working with especially vulnerable prisoners/detainees. Staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 but test negative should have a clinical assessment before starting work.

The testing programme in education has now ended. All the guidance for schools on the actions to take in relation to educating with COVID-19 has been withdrawn.

The Department of Education has now issued guidance on emergency planning and response for education, childcare, and children's social care settings. This replaces all COVID-19 related guidance and applies to:

  • early years
  • wraparound childcare and out of school settings
  • children’s social care
  • schools
  • further education
  • higher education
  • special educational needs and disability (SEND) and specialist settings

The guidance does not apply to:

  • nannies or au pairs, as they work in the child’s or children’s family home

 

From 18 March 2022 all travel restrictions and testing for people travelling or returning to England have ceased, from anywhere in the world. Travellers do not need to complete a passenger locator form, do not need to take any COVID tests and do not need to self-isolate/quarantine. All red list country regulations have been stood down. This applies to all travellers, whether vaccinated or not.

Travellers from England may still need to undertake tests, provide proof of vaccinations and complete travel documents, depending upon the requirements of the country(ies) they are travelling to.

This section contains testing information on the following:

International travel from England

The NHS COVID Pass

Testing for people travelling to England

Testing for road hauliers

International travel from England

International travel is now permitted to all countries (the red list of countries to which travel is banned is no longer operational).

Anyone travelling abroad needs to be aware of any travel restrictions relating to the country(ies) they need to travel to, including whether a negative test for coronavirus is required or proof of vaccinations.  Where proof of a negative test is required, this should be done through a private test provider. The guidance provides the relevant information and links for preparing to travel abroad, including the latest travel advice and what you need to do if you are returning to England.

The NHS COVID Pass

For international travel people who live in England will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status to others, as proof of having received the full course of 2 doses of any approved vaccine - this is now called the NHS COVID Pass. This can be in:

·         digital form, either via the NHS website (you must log in) or by using the NHS app (which is free but different to the COVID app)

·         or in paper form, by requesting a letter via NHS.UK website or by calling the NHS helpline at 119 and requesting a letter.

You should wait at least 5 working days after receiving your second dose before calling 119 and expect the letter to take up to 7 working days to reach you.

Your NHS COVID Pass can be scanned to check and validate your COVID-19 vaccination status in venues in over 60 countries, including those in the EU. Booster vaccinations will show on the COVID Pass within 5 days. The NHS app can now also show test results in addition to your vacciantion status.

From 12 May 2022 the NHS COVID Pass is no longer available for domestic use. This means that venues or events will no longer be able to request it as a condition of entry.

Children aged 12 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel, but should follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to. The NHS COVID Pass for international travel can be stored in an Apple Wallet or Google Pay, even if the device is offline. Some children aged 5-15 who have had a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination can get an NHS COVID Pass letter for international travel.

There is additional guidance for if you cannot get an NHS COVID pass letter, which includes a BSL video about what to do if you cannot get a post-vaccination letter has now been added to the website. You should always check the Gov.UK foreign travel advice pages to see which countries may be requesting proof of vaccination or other requirements, such as testing, to travel abroad. The NHS app will now show COVID test results in addition to your vaccination status.

​​​​​​

Testing for people travelling to England

From 18 March 2022, travellers to England from any country in the world are no longer required to complete a passenger locator form or to take any tests, either before travelling or after their arrival. Self-isolation or quarantine is not required.

The list of banned (red list) countries has been discontinued and all quarantine facilities and locations stood down.

Transport operators are no longer required to ensure that passengers travelling to England by sea, air or rail are provided with information about coronavirus, related duties and public health guidance.

NHS COVID Pass

Proof of your vaccination status can be demonstrated by the NHS COVID Pass. You can access your NHS COVID Pass through the free NHS App on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Proof of your COVID-19 status will be shown within the NHS App. It can also be downloaded from the NHS website to print or in pdf form or a paper copy requested via the NHS website or via 119.

Testing for road hauliers

Hauliers who enter England from abroad do not need to complete a passenger locator form, take any COVID-19 tests before or after arrival in England or self-isolate. This applies whether hauliers are vaccinated or not.

All drivers and crew of HGVs, LGVs and vans from anywhere in the UK (and international road hauliers) may be subject to testing and quarantine rules, depending upon their vaccination status and where they are travelling to. Hauliers should check the guidance to determine whether a country they are travelling to or through requires a COVID test.

Testing for hauliers at haulier advice sites ended on 31 March and all haulier advice sites shut down on 13 May 2022.

Additional guidance has also been provided that identifies the COVID-19 rules for safer behaviour for international hauliers making international journeys.


Testing locations

All PCR test sites have now closed - the test location tabs below are no longer valid. PCR tests are only available in limited circumstances (for patients going to hospital who may require critical care and for those who are at higher risk of a serious illness from COVID-19) and those eligible for a PCR test will be contacted directly.

If you have been provided with a PCR home test kit you can return it using a Royal Mail priority post-box. You can check where your nearest priority post-box is to see whether you can use this facility.

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust 
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team, all others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits) 
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits.
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following to get a PCR test.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • On-site Blackpool Victoria Hospital staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Home testing kits if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Home testing kits if available.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

 

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff via employer referral) - Caton Park and Ride, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Whitehaven
  • Community outreach (from the trust) for non-drivers/homes
  • On-site UHMB Hospitals Trust staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff via employer referral) - Caton Park and Ride, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Whitehaven
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

         Drive-through: Caton Park and Ride

         Mobile Testing units

         Home testing kits (if available).

  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can apply for a coronavirus test - this includes previously indentified categories such as people aged over 65, anyone who cannot work from home and Local Authority staff.

         Drive-through: Caton Park and Ride

  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site East Lancashire Hospitals Trust staff and patients;
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP,  Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Penny Street Car Park, Blackburn BB1 6HQ and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral. 
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP ​​​​; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Penny Street Car Park, Blackburn BB1 6HQ and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits; 
  • LTS walk through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP ​​​​​​,  Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Penny Street Car Park, Blackburn BB1 6HQ and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available)
  • LTS walk through sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street, Nelson BB9 7NN; Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Penny Street Car Park, Blackburn BB1 6HQ and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site Southport and Ormskirk Hospital staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-in (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR  Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW (Blackburn Hospital car park), or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)


The Government has released a policy paper identifying its priorities for swab testing going forward. These priorities accord with the approach already being taken across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

1.    Patients in hospital, including patients with symptoms, patients in critical care, admissions, and patients being discharged,

2.    People in care homes (staff, residents and new admissions),

3.    NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists where possible (symptomatic testing takes precedence),

4.    Targeted testing to manage outbreaks and surveillance;

5.    Teaching staff with symptoms,

6.    The general public when they have symptoms, prioritising those in areas of high incidence.

The top priorities are people who either have Covid-19 now or are most at risk of doing so – patients in hospital and those living and working in care homes. People in these settings are both vulnerable and in locations where contracting the virus carries the greatest threat if it spreads.  Similarly, NHS staff are the next priority due to the need to protect them as individuals and to sustain the care and treatment of all patients, both those with Covid-19 and those with other health issues.

Allocating of coronavirus (Covid-19) swab tests in England.

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