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Twice-weekly Covid tests: How to do it, where to get one and why we need them

Three packs of covid home test kits

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated the importance of carrying out Covid-19 rapid lateral flow tests twice a week in Scotland.

But why do we need them, how do you carry out a test and where do you get one?

Adults aged over 18 who do not have Covid-19 symptoms are being encouraged to test two times a week (every three to four days).

Why is it important I take a rapid lateral flow test?

  • One in three people with the virus does not show symptoms, so, as our Covid tracker shows, it can spread it to others without knowing.
  • Even though the vaccine rollout in Scotland has been a success to date, regular testing, even if you’ve had your vaccine, helps find positive cases in people who have no symptoms, but who are still infectious.
  • If people who test positive self-isolate, the chain of transmission is broken and it helps to limit the spread of coronavirus.
A woman swabbing her mouth taking a rapid lateral flow test
People are being encouraged to order home Covid tests.
  • A negative lateral flow device (LFD) test does not guarantee that you do not have coronavirus. You must continue to follow FACTS and restrictions in place in your area.

How do I carry out a home Covid test?

  • A lateral flow device (LFD) test usually involves taking a sample from your throat and nose using a swab. Results are available in 30 minutes.
  • Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes before taking a test.
  • You must swab your tonsils (or where they would be) and nose without anything touching the tip of the swab, so you may need to remove piercings.
  • Read the instructions that come with your test kit.
  • Once you have removed the test strip from the packet you must start it within 30 minutes.
  • Clean and dry a flat surface and sanitise your hands before you start.
  • Professor Jason Leitch explains the specific steps to take a test – including swabbing your tonsils (four times on each side) and nostril (10 times) in this video:

Your test result will show on the test strip 30 minutes after taking the test and you must read your result at exactly 30 minutes.

How do I tell what the result is?

You must report your result whether it is positive, negative or void.
Full details of how to report your home Covid test and what to do next are available on the NHS Inform website.

Positive result

  • If you have two lines (one next to C and one next to T), your test is positive.

     A lateral flow test ready to be used
    You should receive your result in 30 minutes.

If you or anyone in your household tests positive, everyone in the household must:

Self-isolate immediately – financial and practical support is available,

Report your result and book a PCR test within 48 hours to confirm the result,

Contact tracing will begin when you report a positive test result.

Negative result

  • If there is one line next to C (and no line next to T), your LFD test is negative.

A negative test is not a guarantee that you do not have coronavirus. It only reflects a specific point in time. You must report your negative result and continue to follow FACTS guidance.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Void result

  • If there is one line next to T (and no line next to C), or no lines, your test is void. This means your test did not run correctly.

You must report the result and take another LFD test using a new test kit – do not reuse anything from the first kit.
If your test fails for a second time, you should book a PCR test.
You do not need to self-isolate after two void results, but you must continue to follow FACTS guidance.

Who can order a home Covid test in Scotland?

  • Rapid lateral flow testing kits for twice weekly testing are available for adults over the age of 18.
  • Testing is not recommended for children who go to primary school or who are younger.
  • Anyone aged 12 to 17 should ask an adult to collect or order a test kit for them. They should then self-test and report their result under adult supervision.
  • Tests are for people who do not have symptoms of the virus and who have not been told to self isolate.
  • If you currently get LFD tests from your nursery or childcare provider, school, college, university or workplace, you should continue to do so.
A man swabbing his nose with equipment from a lateral flow test
Rapid lateral flow tests involve swabbing of the throat and nostrils.

You should not order rapid lateral flow testing kits if you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the previous 90 days. You should also not use an LFD test if you need to test for international travel.

Where can I get a home Covid test kit in Scotland?

You can order home testing kits for free online.

Your order will contain one pack of seven tests.

It will be delivered to your home in one to two days. You can order one pack per household per day.

A box containing a covid rapid lateral flow test
Home testing kits are for adults who do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

They are also available to collect from some Covid-19 test sites in Fife and Tayside.

You can also collect LFD tests from some pharamacies or visit a community asymptomatic test site to be tested if you don’t have symptoms.

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