COVID-19 What is symptom-free rapid lateral flow testing?

Around one in three people with Covid-19 have no symptoms, but can still pass it on to others - we all need to play our part to help protect each other.

Symptom-free testing uses rapid Covid-19 tests (Lateral Flow Devices - LFDs) to identify people who have coronavirus without symptoms. An LFD detects the presence or absence of coronavirus from a swab 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 LFD. The sample runs along the surface of the device's absorbent strip, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

Various symptom-free rapid lateral flow testing programmes are available in Surrey:

All adults in Surrey are encouraged to take a test two times a week. You will not need to isolate while waiting for the results of the symptom-free test. Unless you develop symptoms, you will only need to isolate if you are notified that you have tested positive. If you test positive, by law you must follow the government guidance. Further details can be found in the government's Stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The following routes are available to access twice-weekly testing, depending on individual situations:

  • Workplace testing: Thousands 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.
  • Community testing: All local authorities are offering local community testing sites, where you can go to take a supervised test.
  • NHS Test & Trace sites: These are across the country and operate as symptomatic testing sites in the morning but are currently providing an afternoon collect option, where you can pick up a box of tests to use at home.
  • Pharmacy collect: Thousands of pharmacies across England have signed up to offer pharmacy collect. You can go to a participating pharmacy and pick up a free box of tests to use at home. NHS England's site finder allows you to search pharmacies near you that offer pharmacy collect. Over the coming weeks more and more pharmacies will be signing up.
  • Education: Secondary and college students are already being given tests to use at home twice a week, throughout term time and the holidays.
  • LFD Direct: For people who can't access tests through the other routes, you can order a box of tests online or through 119, which will be delivered to your home.

For additional information on COVID-19 testing visit the NHS Testing for coronavirus webpage.