Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid community testing

Everyone over the age of 18 can now access lateral flow testing as part of the national efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

With 1 in 3 people with coronavirus showing no symptoms and potentially spreading the virus without knowing, rapid testing helps to identify positive cases quickly, preventing these people unknowingly spreading the virus.

Take a rapid lateral flow test if you expect there will be a period of higher risk that day, for example before going into the workplace, travelling on public transport, going out for dinner or visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they were infected with COVID-19.

This testing is supplied by NHS Test and Trace and is strictly for people who have no symptoms of COVID-19 as they are not completely accurate at detecting positive cases in the early stages of the virus and sometimes will return a negative test when someone is in fact positive.

If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result.

Testing can be completed in the following ways:

Collect tests to complete at home

Rapid lateral flow home testing kits can be collected from rapid testing sites as well as a selection of pharmacies and libraries. Find your nearest collection site on the NHS website. Please use the filters when you access the link to find locations where you can collect tests to complete at home.

From Monday 1 November, home testing kits are available from a number of libraries as part of a trial. To collect a home testing kit simply visit one of the following libraries:

  • Huntingdon
  • St Neots
  • Soham
  • Wisbech
  • March
  • Arbury Court
  • St Ives
  • Chatteris

Find out more information about libraries including opening times.

Order tests to complete at home

For people who can’t access tests through the other routes, you can order a box of tests online from the GOV.UK website or by calling 119, which will be delivered to your home.

Take a supervised on-site rapid test

Pop along to a rapid testing site to take a test - you can also collect home testing kits from these. Normally, the testing process takes approximately 15 minutes, this will include the registration process and taking the swab test. Once you have completed the test, you can leave, as your results will be sent to you via text or email usually within the hour.

Please arrive 45 minutes before the site closes. These are rapid lateral flow testing sites for people without symptoms. Please do not come to these sites if you have symptoms, you must book a PCR test on the GOV.UK website.

These sites are also unable to carry out test to travel, please find a private test provider on the GOV.UK website.

Monday

  • CAMBRIDGE: URC Church, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EL (9am-5pm)
  • CAMBOURNE: Lower Cricket Pavillion CB23 6FB (8am-7pm)
  • BURWELL: The Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (8am-7pm)
  • WHITTLESEY: Childers Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 1SA (9am-5pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Tuesday

  • CAMBRIDGE: URC Church, Downing Place Cambridge CB2 3EL (9am-5pm)
  • HUNTINGDON: The Coneygear Centre, Huntingdon PE29 1PE (9am-5pm)
  • BURWELL: Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (8am-7pm)
  • MARCH: GER Sports & Social Club, Robingoodfellows Lane, March PE15 8HS (9am-5pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Wednesday

  • CAMBRIDGE: Akeman Street Community Centre, Cambridge CB4 3HG (9am-5pm)
  • CAMBOURNE: Lower Cricket Pavillion CB23 6FB (8am-7pm)
  • WHITTLESEY: Childers Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Whittlesey PE7 1SA (9am-5pm)
  • BURWELL: Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (8am-7pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Thursday

  • CAMBRIDGE: URC Church, Downing Place Cambridge CB2 3EL (9am-5pm)
  • BURWELL: Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (8am-7pm)
  • HUNTINGDON: The Coneygear Centre, Huntingdon PE29 1PE (9am-5pm)
  • MARCH: GER Sports & Social Club, Robingoodfellows Lane, March PE15 8HS (9am-5pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Friday

  • BURWELL: Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (8am-7pm)
  • CAMBRIDGE: URC Church, Downing Place Cambridge CB2 3EL (9am-5pm)
  • CAMBOURNE: Lower Cricket Pavillion CB23 6FB (8am-7pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Saturday

  • CAMBRIDGE: East Barnwell Community Centre, Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8RS
  • BURWELL: Old Fire Station, 27 Reach Road, Burwell CB25 0BU (9am-5pm)
  • HUNTINGDON: The Coneygear Centre, Huntingdon PE29 1PE (9am-5pm)
  • WISBECH: Former Frankie & Benny's, Cromwell Road, Wisbech PE14 0SN (8am-7pm)

Workplace testing

Lots of employers are offering testing in the workplace. This includes testing sites, where you can take a supervised test, and workplace collect, where you can pick up a box of tests to use at home. If your employer offers workplace testing, this is still the best route for you to access rapid tests.

Education

Secondary and college students are already being given tests to use at home twice a week.

How to use a rapid flow test

Find out more about how to take the test below.

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Watch the step-by-step video guide to COVID-19 self-testing on YouTube

If you're blind or partially sighted and need to get a rapid testing kit, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can help by providing you with the home test kit instructions in braille, audio (CD), or large print. Find out more information on the RNIB website.

Information on Lateral Flow Tests provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) can be found online.

Further information about Lateral Flow Tests is available on the GOV.UK website.

Lateral flow testing - Frequently asked questions

Lateral flow antigen tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test people who are asymptomatic [without coronavirus symptoms], better enabling us to identify and isolate more people who may be spreading the virus. This will break the chains of transmission.

A Lateral Flow Test (LFT) detects the presence or absence of coronavirus from a swab or saliva sample. The sample is mixed with a buffer solution, which releases and breaks up virus fragments. Some of the solution is then dropped on to the lateral flow device. The sample runs along the surface of the devices’ absorbent strip, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

Lateral flow tests detect active infections, with results in minutes. The evidence about their performance is still developing. A key point is the need for a better understanding of their potential to detect the virus at different points in an infection.

Lateral flow tests can be a useful tool to detect people at the most infectious point in an infection, which is an advantage when mass testing, over highly sensitive PCR tests that can give positive results even when people are less infectious.

Yes, lateral flow tests can detect active infections within people that are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

Tests are available for anyone aged 11 or older who does not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

The recommendation is for 2 tests a week. If doing the test in the workplace the guidance may be different and you will need to check with your employer.

There are trained staff to help guide you through the process and clear step by step pictures to help you with the process.

If you get a positive result, it is likely that you were infectious at the time the test was taken.

The antigen test cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus in a sample, so if you have only recently been infected, are in the incubation period, or if you have mostly recovered, the test may not give a positive result.

If you test positive, you will need to isolate for 5 days along with other members of your household who are over 18 and not fully vaccinated.

It is now possible to end self-isolation after 5 full days if you have 2 negative LFD tests taken on consecutive days. The first LFD test should not be taken before the fifth day after your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you did not have symptoms). The self-isolation period remains 10 full days for those without negative results from 2 LFD tests taken a day apart.

We will get in touch to give you more information about practical and financial support available to help you to self-isolate. There is lots of support for anyone who needs it.

If you are at work when you receive the result inform your employer, going to the self-isolating room within your workplace if one is allocated and make arrangements to go home. You can drive or have a family member pick you up to return home, who will need to self-isolate with you, but do not use public transport.

You must still take extra care and follow national guidance. Don’t invite anyone into your home who doesn’t live with you, work from home if you can, wash your hands often and well, keep your distance from people you don’t live with, wear a mask in shops or on public transport. You need to continue to take these measures even if you test negative as the test might not have picked up the virus or you could be incubating it.

Find out more about public advice.

If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result.

A negative test does not mean that you do not have the virus, You should continue to follow the preventative measures currently recommended for stopping the spread of the virus.

To protect yourself and others, you must 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.

Depending on the length of queues, you can expect to spend 15-30 minutes on-site.

If you are going to work or the test is being done in the workplace, continue to work, following all COVID-19 safety in the workplace.

If you then receive notification of a positive test, inform your employer, go to the self-isolating room within your workplace if one is allocated and make arrangements to go home. You can drive home without passengers. Or you can have a family member pick you up and drive you home. They will need to self-isolate with you. Do not use taxis or public transport.

You will receive your test results by email and/or text message from NHS Test and Trace. A copy of your result will be sent to your GP. Positive results are sent to Public Health England.

No. The results are processed using a barcode which relates to the individual tested and the person processing the results does not have any access to personal details.

Free symptomatic testing continues to be available to everyone

Please book a test on the NHS website if you have symptoms of coronavirus – high temperature, continuous cough or loss of/change in taste or smell or by calling 119.

People that have tested positive by PCR for COVID-19 are exempt from routine re-testing by PCR or LFD tests within a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset or test (if asymptomatic) unless they develop new COVID-19 symptoms.

No, you cannot take a rapid test within 90 days of receiving a positive PCR test for COVID-19.

Any recyclables eg. cardboard, can be disposed of in household recycling bins however test cartridges, swabs etc need to be disposed of in general waste and go to landfill.

You will need to register your details online and give consent for NHS Test and Trace to process your data and contact you with your results. Find out how NHS Test and Trace will use your data on the GOV.UK website.

Businesses: encourage your customers to rapid test before visiting

As more businesses open up, it's never been more important to encourage regular rapid testing. To help achieve this, we are asking businesses to print off 'Before you come in' posters to display in prominent locations, as well as to remind customers with posts/tweets to rapid test 'Before you visit'.

Suggested social media messages

  1. As restrictions allow us to open up further, it's never been more important to do regular rapid testing twice a week to allow us to carry on doing the things we love. Visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting for information on where to collect or order home testing kits or for an onsite test.
  2. Are you rapid testing twice a week? A rapid test will ensure you are not unknowingly spreading covid-19 to us and our other customers, allowing us to remain open and keeping safe. Find out where to get rapid tests from at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting
  3. Rapid testing twice a week will help us get back to a more normal way of life and keep us all safe. Visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting to find out where to collect/order your testing kits or pop in for an onsite test.
  4. 1 in 3 people don't know they have Covid-19 and could unknowingly spread it to other people who could get ill or worse. Help stop the spread by ensuring you do regular rapid testing twice a week. Find out more at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting
  5. Rapid testing is one way we can keep our staff and customers safe from Covid-19, are you doing yours twice a week? Find out where to get your test at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting
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Stickers for businesses

Businesses that offer rapid workplace testing to staff, either through on-site testing or workplace test collection are being urged to display stickers and posters letting customers know that their staff are rapid testing.

By prominently displaying the stickers on their websites or on their premises, alongside existing materials which promote checking customers and visitors in, businesses will be able to demonstrate to their customers that the health of staff, customers and their local communities is a key priority.

Many local businesses have signed up for free workplace testing already, using free government-supplied rapid test kits from NHS Test and Trace. All organisations that registered before 12 April and self-declared their involvement are eligible for the scheme.

Find out more information online.

Data protection

Your information regarding the test may be shared with Cambridgeshire County Council.