Christmas shoppers should take Covid test before hitting the high street, Govt says

23 November 2021, 14:28 | Updated: 23 November 2021, 14:58

Government advise on lateral flow testing has changed
Government advise on lateral flow testing has changed. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The government has urged Christmas shoppers to take a coronavirus test before being “high risk” crowded environments.

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A new section on the government’s updated coronavirus advice page recommends that people who are spending time in "crowded and enclosed spaces" should take a lateral flow test.

Official advise now reads: "You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air.

"You may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day. This includes spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces, or before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19."

This is the first time the government has advised to get a test before heading into a "high-risk" environment with previous advice focusing on getting tested before meeting vulnerable people or twice weekly.

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People who develop symptoms of Covid-19 - including a new and persistent cough, a fever or a loss or change of taste or smell - are still encouraged to self-isolate and get a lab test, also known as a PCR test.

The advice on the Government website says that around one in three people who have Covid-19 do not have any symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.

It urges people to use the free rapid lateral flow tests, which can be collected from pharmacies and are available online.

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A spokesperson for the UK Health Security Agency said: "About one in three people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms but can still infect others.

"Rapid testing plays a critical role in uncovering hidden cases of Covid-19 and preventing the spread of the virus.

"Taking a free rapid lateral flow test before a period of high risk will give you peace of mind that you are unlikely to be infectious and able to spread Covid-19.

"It remains vital to get vaccinated and continue to take other preventative measures such as regular hand washing, wearing a face mask and keeping spaces ventilated when meeting people indoors."