Update to Covid-19 testing

6th January 2022 in Covid-19

From Tuesday next week there will no longer be a need to take a PCR test following a positive Lateral Flow test

What’s changing?

The government has announced that from 11 January in England, people who receive positive Lateral Flow test will have to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.

This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 rates remain high across the UK. Whilst levels of COVID-19 are high, the vast majority of people with positive Lateral Flow results can be confident that they have COVID-19.

What to do if you test positive on a Lateral Flow Test

If you get a positive result:

After reporting a positive Lateral Flow Test result, you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace so that your contacts can be traced. You must continue to self-isolate.

Anyone who tests positive will be able to leave self-isolation 7 days after the date of their initial positive test if they receive 2 negative Lateral Flow results, 24 hours apart, on days 6 and 7.


1. People who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) will still be asked to take a confirmatory PCR if they receive a positive Lateral Flow result, to enable them to access financial support.

2. people participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR test, according to the research or surveillance protocol.

3. Around one million people in England who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 have been identified by the NHS as being potentially eligible for new treatments. They will be receiving a PCR test kit at home by mid-January to use if they develop symptoms or if they get a positive Lateral Flow result, as they may be eligible for new treatments if they receive a positive PCR result. This group should use these priority PCR tests when they have symptoms as it will enable prioritised laboratory handling.

Are Lateral Flow Tests that accurate?

Lateral Flow Tests are over 80% effective at finding people with high viral loads who are most infectious and most likely to transmit the virus to others.

Analysis by NHS Test and Trace shows Lateral Flow Tests have an estimated specificity of at least 99.97% when used in the community. This means that for every 10,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there are likely to be fewer than 3 false positive results. 

Lateral Flow Tests identify the most infectious people. These people tend to spread the virus to many people and so identifying them remains important.

Need further information or support?

Visit Cornwall Council’s website for: information about Test and Trace Support Payments, testing, help with groceries or medication while Self-Isolating, Covid Business Support and more.

Visit GOV.UK for: up-to-date information about the current restrictions.

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