There are two types of Covid-19 tests
These tests are sent to a lab to be analysed. They are usually used for people with coronavirus symptoms, and they also help with detecting what variant of Covid-19 a person has.
You can get a PCR test if you:
- have symptoms
- have had a positive rapid test
- are a contact of a someone confirmed to have Covid-19
- have been asked to have this type of test by the NHS, public health, or an official testing programme
The second type of tests are rapid or lateral flow tests. These do not need to be sent to a lab and can give a result in 30 minutes.
Rapid tests are for people who have no symptoms – you must not be showing any symptoms when you visit a testing centre or pharmacy to do this type of test.
Testing if you have symptoms
Covid-19 symptoms are: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your taste or smell. If you have any of these you must start self-isolating immediately, while you book your test.
Tests must be booked in advance through the GOV.UK website, NHS app, or by dialling 119. Test sites in Lambeth are available on GOV.UK.
Testing if you do not have symptoms
Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but they can still pass it on. That’s why we encourage everyone to get rapid tests regularly. You can get collect free test kits to use at home, or get tested in person at test sites or pharmacies. Both give results within an hour.
Community testing is a crucial part of our efforts to reduce cases in Lambeth. We encourage self-testing ideally twice a week, to identify people who unknowingly have the virus, and to enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, stopping the spread.
The tests themselves take a few minutes, with a 30-minute wait to read the result if you have self-tested at home, or if you’ve done a test in person – via text or email usually within two hours of leaving the test site or pharmacy.