Asymptomatic people who test positive on lateral flow won't need confirmatory PCR

5 January 2022, 14:05 | Updated: 5 January 2022, 14:33

People who get a positive lateral flow test result no longer need to take a follow-up PCR test
People who get a positive lateral flow test result no longer need to take a follow-up PCR test. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Coronavirus testing rules are changing in England to help with Covid-related workplace absences.

From next Tuesday, asymptomatic people who test positive on a lateral flow test can start their isolation immediately.

Previously they would have had to wait for confirmation from a PCR test, meaning they'd have to stay at home for longer.

The UK Health Security Agency said the change will come in from 11 January and only apply to England for now.

People who get a positive lateral flow test result no longer need to take a follow-up PCR test, the UK's Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed today.

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From January 11 those with a positive lateral flow test will still be required to self-isolate immediately.

The UKHSA said the measure was "temporary" and the chances of a false positive result were "very low" because Covid-19 is so prevalent.

UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries said: "While cases of Covid continue to rise, this tried-and-tested approach means that LFDs can be used confidently to indicate Covid-19 infection without the need for PCR confirmation.

"It remains really important that anyone who experiences Covid-19 symptoms self-isolates immediately. They should also order a PCR test on, or by phoning 119.

"I'm really grateful to the public and all of our critical workers who continue to test regularly and self-isolate when necessary, along with other practical and important public health behaviours, as this is the most effective way of stopping the spread of the virus and keeping our friends, families and communities safe."

Asymptomatic people in Scotland who return a positive lateral flow test will also not have to confirm their result with a PCR, test Nicola Sturgeon has said.

People who test positive will be asked to isolate immediately and register their result online so contact tracing can take place.

She also announced that Scots who test positive for Covid-19 will be able to leave self isolation on day seven if they return two negative lateral flow tests and do not have a fever.

Those self isolating will be asked to take a lateral flow test no earlier than day six of isolation and a second at least 24 hours later.

The change will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday.