Lateral flow tests are now being rolled out far and wide as a key tool to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid-19.

School children, excluding those in primary schools, are now taking rapid tests twice a week.

Adults in their household and support or childcare bubbles can get tested too and the same applies to people working in small businesses who cannot work from home, health and social care workers and early years staff and childminders.

But what's the best way to take a lateral flow tests? And what should you bear in mind before and after using them?

Wendy Lee, Professional Standards and Services Business Partner at Well Pharmacy, has shared her tips and step-by-step guide with us.

Salisbury Journal: Wendy Lee, Professional Standards and Services Business Partner at WellWendy Lee, Professional Standards and Services Business Partner at Well

Before you start

  • Make sure you have enough tests for everyone in your bubble

Although only older students are required to get tested twice a week, the Government recommends all adults living with primary, secondary and college-age children to take regular lateral flow tests too. 

  • Remember basic hygiene

Wash your hands and clean the surface you're going to use (make sure the surface is flat).

  • Read the instructions 

Lateral flow tests might be coming from different manufacturers so it's always best to read the instructions before you start, Mrs Lee says. Most test kits come with a testing device, a swab, a tube with some solution, a plastic tube for you to put the solution in, a test tube holder and a waste bag

Salisbury Journal: Instructions in a testing kitInstructions in a testing kit

  • Make sure you have everything you need 

Items you'll want to have to hand include a watch so you can time yourself (it will take 15-30 minutes for the result to show), a mirror so you can see your tonsils, tissues so you can blow your nose and hand sanitiser.

  • If you have more than one child, consider writing their initials on the test

Mrs Lee, who has two children, says she does this so she knows which tests belongs to whom.

​Taking the test: A step by step guide

  • Take the test out of the sealed pack and place it on a flat surface
  • Carefully open the sachet containing the solution and drop the solution into the extraction tube
  • Put the extraction tube into the tube holder to keep it steady
  • Blow your nose and wash your hands
  • Take the swap stick out of the wrapper (there is an arrow pointing which side you should open it from) and make sure you're holding the handle and not the soft tip
  • Using a mirror, open your mouth and rub the soft tip of the swab over your tonsils four times trying not to touch your teeth
  • Put the swab up your nostril, push it up until it stops and rub the swab around for about 10 times
  • Do the same with the other nostril
  • Put the swab stick into the extraction tube and swirl it around making sure the solution can touch the tip of the swab. Do it for about 15 seconds
  • Put the extraction tube back onto the holder
  • Take the swab stick out and put it in the waste bag
  • Put the lid back on the extraction tube, making sure it's tight
  • Flip it upside down and quirt two drops of the solution into the testing device (by the letter S)

After you take the test

  • Wait for 30 minutes

Although the testing device may start to change, you should still wait half an hour for the result, Mrs Lee says. 

"You will probably see the line by the C quite quickly but the T will take a while [to show] so you can't assume when you see the line by the letter C that you're negative. You have to wait for a little while to make sure the line next to the T doesn't appear."

Salisbury Journal: A negative lateral flow testA negative lateral flow test

A line by the letter C and no line by the T means the result is negative, a line by the letter C and a line by the T means the result is positive and a line by the letter T and no line by the C means the test hasn't worked.

"If you've touched your teeth rather than your tonsils or didn't put the swab high up enough and didn't get any sample, then you'll get a void result and you have to do it again." 

  • Take the tests as a family

To reassure parents with younger children who might be more scared to take the tests, Mrs Lee is encouraging families to take the lateral flow tests together.

"Just see it as a routine thing like brushing your teeth in the morning and in the evening, [this way] the children will be more accepting about the fact this is what we need to do to help others."

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