Symptoms and LFT testing for Covid-19 variants
With the rapid spread of the latest variation on Covid-19, most of us will be thinking about taking tests on a more regular basis. Here’s the advice on ordering testing kits, taking tests and reporting results.
Symptoms may appear up to two weeks after exposure to coronavirus, but usually around day five.
The symptoms of the Delta variant are generally agreed to include:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- loss of smell
- continuous coughs
The symptoms of the Omicron variant are appearing to be significantly different, and could easily be mistaken for a simple cold. Latest suggestions is that a scratchy throat and croaky voice could be a key symptom.
Taking the first tests
It’s a wise idea to have a stock of lateral flow tests that you can use at home. They are important if you need to go somewhere that requires proof of a negative test, or just for a regular check, as per government advice. (Confusingly, advice when you try to order lateral flow tests is that if you show symptoms, you should opt for a PCR test rather than an LFT.)
There are different ways to get more rapid lateral flow tests. There may be a delay in being able to order tests and then receive or collect them, so think ahead.
Find out more about how to order tests, including picking them up from local collection points, by visiting
- In England, go to https://www.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-coronavirus
- In Scotland, go to https://www.gov.scot/communitytesting
- In Wales, go to https://www.gov.wales/rapidtesting
- In Northern Ireland, go to https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/workforce-testing
- always read the instructions before you start, and as you progress through the test
- watch the very helpful short video: how to take a rapid test – details are available in the pack
- you can get the instructions in other languages and formats (easy read or large print)
For more help and advice, go to https://www.gov.uk/covid19-self-test-help
Always report every result – whatever it is
Report every result (positive, negative or void) to the NHS on the day you take the test (and no later than 24 hours). Try to do it as soon as you get the result.
Save time: report online and use your NHS Login (you can set one up the first time you report).
Go to GOV.UK to report your result https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result
If you test negative, positive or get coronavirus symptoms
If you test negative, keep following coronavirus advice – including regular handwashing, social distancing and wearing a face covering.
If you test positive or get coronavirus symptoms, make sure you self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test (a different coronavirus test) to confirm the result.
For the latest help and advice, go to: https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Regular testing when you do not have obvious symptoms
About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others.
In this case, getting tested regularly is the only way to know if you have the virus. If people test positive and immediately self-isolate, this can help to stop the virus spreading.
It’s recommended that you take the test twice a week (3 or 4 days apart) and get more tests as and when you need.
Calling the contact centre
If you have any questions or problems call the contact centre on 119. The call is free from landlines and mobiles. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm.