These rapid tests are an important part of reducing the spread of Covid-19 in Lambeth as it will help to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could spread the infection to others unknowingly. By getting tested and self-isolating if you have Covid-19, you can save lives and protect the NHS.
Who can get a rapid Covid-19 test
You can get a free rapid Covid-19 test if:
- You have no Covid-19 symptoms
- You live or work in Lambeth
- Testing is now available for children aged 3 and over and for young people. All children aged 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A parent or guardian will need to administer the test on all children aged 11 and under. Children 12 and over can take their own sample if they are able to do so or can be assisted by their accompanying adult. Only children who are getting a test should visit the testing site.
We are particularly encouraging people who are at higher risk of being exposed to Covid-19 to get tested. This includes people who work in certain sectors, such as construction, education, emergency services, hospitality, leisure, personal care, frontline public sector roles, retail and transport. This list is not exhaustive, and you do not need to prove you work in one of these roles to get a test.
Who cannot get a rapid Covid-19 test
You cannot get a rapid Covid-19 test if:
- You have Covid-19 symptoms
- You do not live or work in Lambeth
If you have symptoms you should book a test through GOV.UK or by calling 119. The symptoms are a high temperature (fever), a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
When and where to get a test
Currently, you can get a test at the following locations:
- Lambeth Town Hall, open from 9am to 4.20pm
- Brixton Windmill, open from 9am to 3.30pm
- Brockwell Park, open from 9am to 3.30pm
You can get tested again after 7 days.
How to book a test
You must book a test in advance; we do not accept walk-in requests.
You must not attend your appointment if you have any symptoms of Covid-19.
You should attend your appointment on time to allow for safe registration and testing. If you are late, the centre will try to accommodate you, but we might have to rebook a new appointment if the centre is busy.
What to bring with you to the appointment
You should bring:
- confirmation of your booking - the confirmation email on your mobile device or printed out
- a mobile device to scan a QR or bar code on the test. There will be devices available if you don’t have your own
- a face covering (unless you are exempt)
- you may also want to bring a bottle of water, as we cannot provide water at the test site.
- do plan ahead - there are no toilet facilities at the test site
How the test works
The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself, but there will be trained staff available if you need support. You can watch a video for a detailed explanation of the procedure.
Once you have finished, the swab will be processed and analysed. Once the test is done, the swab is discarded.
The rapid test is called a ‘lateral flow test’ - it does not need to be sent away to a lab and provides results very quickly, within an hour. More information about how Lateral Flow tests work, their safety and the validation process which they were subject to by Public Health England and scientists from Oxford University before being approved for use across the country, is available on the Public Health England website.
Getting your test results
Results will be sent to you the same day via text message and/or email using the contact details you provided when booking your appointment.
The results are usually available within an hour – sometimes as fast as 30 minutes.
You do not need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the test results, unless you develop symptoms of Covid-19.
If you get a positive result
You must self-isolate immediately and book another test with the national testing service. This is called a ‘PCR test’ and it will be analysed by a lab to confirm the result of your first, rapid test.
To book a test, visit GOV.UK or call 119.
If you are out or at work when you get your result please make your way home. Avoid using public transport if possible. If you are at work please inform your line manager immediately so that they can initiate their organisation's risk management plan – cleaning your work station for example.
Until the results of the second test are known, you and your household should self-isolate. Full guidance on how to self-isolate is available on GOV.UK.
You might be eligible for support to self-isolate
Self-isolating is essential to preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the community. The government has made a £500 support package available for eligible people.
If you get a negative result
You do not need to self-isolate, unless you have developed Covid-19 symptoms, live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS test and trace.
However, a negative result does not fully rule out Covid-19 infection as there can sometimes be false negative lateral flow tests. This means you could still have the infection, but the test didn’t pick it up. This can happen because these tests only turn positive when there is a lot of virus growing in your nose and throat.
This means that even after a negative test, to protect yourself and others, you must keep following the current restrictions and remember: Hands. Face. Space.
Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
Face – wear a face-covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.
You cannot purchase these tests
The UK Government has been purchasing testing kits for the public to use at approved local sites. The kits are not currently available to purchase on the market.
The tests we provide at our testing sites are totally free of charge.