Getting a coronavirus test

Help and guidance to find the right test for you

There are two main types of Covid-19 tests. The first is known as a PCR test. These are mostly for people who are showing symptoms, but they are also used for ”enhanced testing”, when we need to detect instances of variants of Covid-19 after cases have been found in a particular area.

Lambeth Council is currently carrying out enhanced testing for all residents, encouraging everyone over the age of 11 to get PCR tests whether or not they have symptoms, as cases of the variant first identified in South Africa have been found.

The second type is known as rapid testing or lateral flow testing, and you also must not be showing any symptoms when you visit one of our testing centres. This type of testing is not used to track and stop the spread of variants. 

Non-symptomatic testing

Currently the priority is for all residents in the borough with no symptoms to get a PCR test at a local testing site as soon as possible.

Get a PCR test if you do not have symptoms

After you have had a PCR test and if you have tested negative, you should begin or resume regular non-symptomatic rapid testing. This is because around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but they can still pass it on. 

We are not currently taking additional bookings for rapid tests until April 19 when you will be able to collect rapid tests to take home. We will honour existing bookings but please note you may have to wait longer than usual.

This community testing is a crucial part of our efforts to reduce cases in Lambeth. The rapid test also known as a lateral flow test will help to identify anyone who unknowingly has the virus, and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, stopping the spread of the virus. The tests take around 15 minutes and you get your results usually within two hours of leaving the testing site via text or email, or waiting 30 minutes to read your result if you have self-tested at home. 

 Get a rapid test if you do not have symptoms

Symptomatic testing

If you have symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your taste or smell – you must start self-isolating immediately, while you book your test.  

How to book a test

Tests must be booked in advance through the GOV.UK website, NHS app, or by dialling 119.

Get a PCR test if you have symptoms