Covid-19 testing FAQs

Who can get tested?

Free and regular coronavirus tests are now available at multiple local sites for everyone in H&F aged 12 upwards, even if you don’t have symptoms.

There are two types of test available, so please make sure you get the right one.

Who is this test for?

Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) are for people without symptoms of COVID-19 and are only available for those over the age of 12. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 do not attend this test, you should book a free standard PCR swab test

Should I book an LFT if I’ve got symptoms of Covid?

Lateral Flow Tests are only for those without symptoms of the virus. If you have symptoms, you should book a free standard PCR swab test.         

Should I get an LFT if I’ve been told to self-isolate because I’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, you should not get a Lateral Flow Test. You must stay at home and complete ten days self-isolation. Your isolation period includes the date of your last contact with them and the next ten full days.

Taking a Lateral Flow Test will not allow you to end your isolation early. If you develop symptoms while you are self-isolating you should book a free standard PCR swab test or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.

It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.

Why should I get an LFT if I feel well?

We know that up to one in three people who have coronavirus never show any symptoms but that does not mean they are not infectious. Lateral Flow Tests are one of the tools being used to help detect and fight COVID-19.  

These tests can allow individuals with no symptoms to check if they have the virus. The rapid turnaround, lateral flow tests can give results in under an hour, without the need for laboratory processing.   

So please get a free Lateral Flow Test to reduce the spread and keep H&F safe.

How many times can I come for an LFT?

You are welcome to book repeat tests as long as you have not had a positive test result. 

A false negative can happen if you test soon after you have picked up the virus. For this reason repeated testing is more reliable than a one off test. To ensure greater reliability, you are welcome to book repeat tests provided these are 3 to 5 days apart and you have not had a positive result.

If you test positive for coronavirus, you must follow government guidelines, stay at home and self isolate

How does an LFT work?

You will be given the testing equipment and will need to take your own throat and nose swab, then the sample is analysed by trained staff using a device that looks similar to a pregnancy test.

The result is automatically texted or emailed to you within an hour. Your test is linked to a unique barcode.

Watch the video to see how easy it is to be tested at an H&F testing centre.

How quickly will I get a result?

Test results are usually received within two hours, however sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for results to be received. If you do not receive your results within 24hrs you can call the CAN team. Contact the H&F CAN helpline Freephone 0800 145 6095, open 8am to 6pm seven days a week, or email:

What if I need someone to help me take the test?

Due to social distancing our testing staff will hand you the test and can talk you through it but are unable to administer it for you. Therefore if you think you will need help doing this, please attend the test centre with another person who can do this for you. 

How reliable are the LFTs?

The lateral flow tests pick up 80% (4 in 5) of people who are infected, and picks up 95% of people with high viral loads. 

What happens if I test positive after having an LFT?

If you test positive you must self-isolate immediately but don't worry we are here to help. STAY HOME and our CAN contact centre staff will ring you to advise you what you need to do. Or you can ring them on 0800 1456095 between 8am to 6pm Monday to Sunday. Or visit H&F CAN

If I test positive do I need to get a PCR test to confirm the result?

If you get a positive Lateral Flow Test result you must self-isolate. You only need to get a confirmatory PCR test if you work in the following professions:

  1. NHS employees
  2. Adult Social Care
  3. Primary Schools
  4. Cross Channel haulers

The PCR test is the type that has been in use since Spring 2020 and requires a fresh swab which will be analysed in a laboratory and can confirm the result within a few days.

How can I cancel or change my appointment for an LFT if I can no longer attend? 

There is a link in your booking confirmation which will allow you to cancel or change your appointment.

If you can no longer attend your appointment, we recommend you change your appointment rather than cancel as it’s important that you get tested.

I received a negative LFT result, do I still need to follow the rules?

Testing will not completely eliminate risk, as the test only picks up 4 in 5 cases of Covid It is therefore essential that even if you test negative you continue to follow the lockdown rules.

Can I get financial support if I test positive?

If you test positive for covid, you may be entitled to a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.  The council also offers other financial assistance – please ask H&F CAN for help

Find out more and apply for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.