11 Jan 2022

People who are asymptomatic (no Covid symptoms) and receive positive lateral flow test (LFD) result are required to self-isolate immediately and no longer need to take a confirmatory PCR test.

People who receive positive lateral flow test (LFD) results for Covid-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.

Those who test positive on a lateral flow but have no symptoms must still self-isolate for up to 10 days, but they can end quarantine if they receive two negative lateral flow test results, 24 hours apart, on days six and seven. 

It is important that asymptomatic people register their positive lateral flow test on the government website www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result so case numbers can be reflected accurately and contact tracing can take place by NHS Test and Trace.

Whilst levels of Covid-19 are high, the vast majority of people with positive LFD results can be confident that they do have Covid-19.  

Rapid lateral flow tests are most useful at identifying Covid-19 in people without any symptoms. The 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.

the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says that for every 10,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there were likely to be fewer than three false positive results.

As Omicron cases continue to rise, the demand for tests has grown rapidly across the globe. This measure will help manage the demand for PCR tests in the UK so that those who most need tests can continue to access them


What do I do if I develop Covid symptoms and haven't take a LFD?

Anyone who develops one of the three main Covid-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test (book an appointment at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119). They must self-isolate if they get a positive test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test - these rules have not changed.

The three main symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal


There are a few exceptions to the new rules:

  • 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 LFD result, to enable them to access financial support
  • 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
  • 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 LFD 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.


For full information, visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus