Did you know you could regularly take a symptom-free test to check for Covid?

If you leave home to work, volunteer or provide care, or if a member of your household or bubble  attends nursery, school or college, or works in one of those settings but isn’t being offered testing by the workplace, these tests are for you.

Regularly using a symptom-free test (often called Lateral Flow tests) to check for Covid-19 is a great way to protect yourself and your family. It can also prevent you unknowingly spreading the virus to others around you, be that someone you care for, a colleague, your class mates, teacher or even someone you pass in the street.

These don’t replace the need to get a PCR (technical name for it) test at a test centre if you develop symptoms. Book a test now if you have symptoms.

The fact is, one in three people carry the virus without symptoms.

With restrictions soon to ease further allowing us to meet more people, get our hair done, go to the (garden of a) pub. Wouldn’t you like to do it confident that everyone around you is doing all they can to make sure they’re not spreading Covid without knowing?

If enough of test ourselves regularly and self-isolate if we’re positive, we can be more confident that we won’t see plans to ease restrictions changing.

Infection rates for East Sussex are currently among the lowest in England, and that is where we want them to stay. Inevitably with the return of schools meaning more mixing and more people able to return to work we have seen a small increase in cases over recent weeks. This could be expected to increase as more restrictions ease.

How can we keep infection rates low?

The only way we can keep the number of people with Covid low is through:

  • regular testing of people without symptoms – even if you’ve had your vaccine
  • keeping our social contacts within the rules – any negative test result doesn’t make it okay to hug your granny, grandpa, mum, dad, best friend
  • getting your vaccine as soon as you are invited

Taking a test is easy. If you haven’t done one before you could book a symptom-free test at a participating community pharmacy so that you can be guided through the process for the first time, then you will know how to do it yourself.  If you can’t get to a community pharmacy, the Department of Health and Social Care have also made two videos:

Whether you are doing the test at home or are being assisted at a pharmacy the test itself takes only a few minutes and you should have your result within 30 minutes, if testing at home, to one hour, if being tested at a participating community pharmacy or a symptom-free test site.

Record your symptom-free test result

Positive or negative, the next thing for you to do is record your result, simply go to www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

If you’re recording a result for yourself you can set up an account, this only takes two minutes and will save you time when reporting each test result. If recording someone else’s results simply start tapping in the details. It will ask you a few questions about you or the person who has taken the test, it will also ask you for your test strip ID (this is the long number on test strip or, if you have smart phone you can scan the QR code to enter it automatically.

What do I do if I test positive with a symptom-free test?

If you get a positive test result you must self-isolate immediately along with the rest of your household. You are then required to book a confirmatory PCR test, within two days , at one of the local testing sites – doing this will ensure that you and anyone you live with doesn’t have to self-isolate unnecessarily.

You should be able to book a test for the same day, and you will usually have your results within 48 hours (though recent results have been received in 24 hours or less). Other options are available at the point of booking if you can’t get to a test site.

Get support to self-isolate

We know self-isolating at short notice is difficult, but it is important that you do it to prevent the virus spreading further and ensure we can get back to normal as soon as possible.

To make it easier there is support available to people self-isolating in East Sussex, to help them do so successfully. Just tell NHS Test and Trace you need extra support and the Local Tracing Partnership will contact you to:

  • connect you to community hubs for help with things like shopping, self-isolation support payments or housing concerns
  • signpost other services, for example mental health, physical health or social care support
  • arrange urgent food delivery if you have no other way to access food.

Support grants for low income households

If your confirmatory test is positive you may also be eligible for a self-isolation support grant of £500. The eligibility criteria for these grants has recently changed making them available for eligible families whose child/ren is required to self-isolate due to either testing positive themselves or being identified as a close contact of a positive case. Find out more about support for low income households required to self-isolate.

Okay, I’m convinced. How do I get a symptom-free test?

There are a couple of different options. You can get an assisted test at a community pharmacy if you would like someone to do the test for you.

Or, if you’re happy to do the test yourself at home, you can collect test kits (usually two boxes of seven tests) to do yourself at home.

Find out more about all the options at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/covidtests