Lateral flow testing update

Please see the below information re testing from Val Ayre, Public Health locality manager.


What is an LFD (Lateral Flow Device) test?

Around 1 in 3 individuals with COVID-19 do not display symptoms. Opening testing up to catch those showing no symptoms will help to find positive cases earlier and to break hidden chains of transmission.


Lateral flow device (LFD) testing is a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but who may still be spreading the virus. The tests are easy to use and give results in 30 minutes. Those who test positive must immediately self-isolate for 10 days to avoid passing the virus on to others. (Self-isolation starts immediately but counting day 1 as the next day).


This type of test is very good at identifying people who have lots of the virus, and are infectious on the day, but isn't as good at finding the virus in people who aren’t infectious yet (i.e. early in the infection), so they are a kind of spot check test.


Lateral Flow Antigen testing involves processing a nose and throat swab sample with an LFD.

The LFD detects a COVID-19 antigen, that is produced when a person is infected with COVID-19.

If this antigen is present, then a coloured strip on the LFD will appear to show a positive result.

  • You will have to self-administer a nose and throat swab under supervision of testing staff.

  • The Supervising Operative will be able to provide guidance whilst you self-administer the test, and once you have taken the swab, will take the sample for analysis.

  • You will receive a barcode, with a unique reference number (that are supplied separately to the test kits), which will be used to link you to your individual test sample.

This is different from the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that have been carried out for the public at various locations in recent months, which work in a different way, as the swab kits go to the lab, rather than be tested on site.

The PCR tests are better at finding very small amounts of the virus, especially early in infection, so these are used primarily in people who have symptoms and can be booked through the NHS website.

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Lateral Flow Testing for household members

Members of households, childcare or support bubbles of school staff and pupils can now access lateral flow devices to carry out rapid testing at home. See here.

From 1 March 2021, if you are a member of a household, childcare bubble or support bubble of staff or a pupil, you can access twice-weekly rapid testing via one of the following routes:

Please note that whilst the online information does not specifically indicate the age range for household members rapid testing, it is predominantly aimed at adults aged 18+.


Get a test through your employer

Your workplace may offer rapid lateral flow testing to you. Contact your employer to find out more.


Take a test at a local testing site

You can take a rapid lateral flow test at one of the local test sites listed below. Testing at these sites is assisted, which means you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator. You should not need to book an appointment. Test sites will generally be open between 1.30pm and 7pm for lateral flow tests. Do not visit outside of these opening hours, as the site may be being used for the testing of people with coronavirus symptoms.


Collect test kits

You can collect 2 packs of home test kits at a local collection point. Each pack contains 7 tests. Anyone aged 18+ can collect.

Most collection points are open from 1.30pm to 7pm. You can check online if the location is open or busy before you go. You do not need to make an appointment.

Do not visit a collection point outside opening hours, as it may be used to test people with coronavirus symptoms outside these times.


Order home test kits online

If you cannot get tested at your workplace or are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online. Do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.

Order rapid lateral flow home test kits

The test sites in Cumbria are listed below.

• Allerdale House Overflow Car Park (Workington)

• Barrow Town Hall Courtyard (Barrow)

• Carlisle Airport (Carlisle)

• Castle Meadows Car Park (Whitehaven)

• Cecil Street Car Park (Carlisle)

• County Hall Car Park (Kendal)

• Sandgate Car Park (Penrith)


Can the tests be used on children under the age of 12?

Yes they can, but the Public Health team does not recommend schools and other settings actively promote regular rapid testing in children under the age of 12 because it can be unpleasant for them.


We recommend education settings encourage adult members aged 18+ of households, childcare or support bubbles of school staff and pupils to participate in the twice-weekly rapid testing programme.


Please note that the information booklet that comes with the household member LFD kits does say they are suitable for children under the age of 12, so parents/carers may ask you if they can test their children. Parents and carers should be advised that this is not recommended, but if they are going to do so, they should strictly follow the guidance in the information booklet.


If children under the age of 12 develop COVID-19 symptoms, they should get a PCR test.


This advice will be kept under review

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