The huge Covid test rules changing this week – all you need to know

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From Tuesday, January 11, those who find themselves infected with COVID-19 through a lateral flow test will no longer need to do a PCR test if they do not have symptoms. The changes have been brought in to relieve pressure on PCR testing as cases of the fast spreading Omicron variant climb throughout the UK.

What should I do if I have a positive LFT?

If you have no coronavirus symptoms and test positive on a lateral flow test, you should report the test on GOV.UK and isolate immediately.

You do not need to follow it up with a confirmatory PCR test as of Tuesday.

You only need to isolate for seven days and will be released from self isolation unless you test positive on your sixth and seventh day.

READ MORE: The 3 European countries where Covid cases are higher than UK

These two tests must be taken a minimum of 24 hours apart.

If you have symptoms when you take your lateral flow test, or develop symptoms after you’ve taken the test, you should order a PCR test.

There are only a few exceptions to the new rules.

If you are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment, you will be required to take a PCR test in order to receive your sum.

Those participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR test.

Some one million people in England who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid are involved in new research of treatments will need to request a PCR test.

In Wales, those who are in a “clinically vulnerable” group will still need to take a PCR test.

TV doctor Dr Amir Khan explained: “People who test positive on a lateral flow test and have no symptoms don’t have to order a PCR test, their period of isolation starts at that point of the positive lateral flow test.

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“The specificity will vary depending on who’s doing it.

“But if they do test positive on lateral flow tests, they are very good at picking up [the virus]. So, that is very accurate.”

He added: “The idea is you don’t have to wait for a PCR test, your period of isolation starts at that point.”

Dr Amir said the new rules could mean some won’t report a positive test to the Government as it means they will need to self isolate.

He said: “If you test positive on the lateral flow test, you have to report it.

“So, we rely on people reporting it themselves.

“And people who are self-employed or low-pay jobs, who don’t get sick pay, may choose not to self-isolate because the financial support isn’t there for them.”

However, Dr Amir said the new rules could make the discovery of new variants more difficult.

He said: “[With] PCR tests, it’s important for us to genome sequence that to pick up new variants.

“So, that will be reduced as well.”

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