Covid NI: PHA share advice on how to the different types of lateral flow tests in Northern Ireland

By Sophie McLaughlin

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding the public of the importance of carrying out rapid antigen tests correctly as a number of different lateral flow tests are now available in Northern Ireland.

Lateral flow testing has become more integral in Northern Ireand as new rules that came into effect this month mean that fully-vaccinated people who have no symptoms but test positive on a lateral flow device will no longer need to book a follow-up PCR test to confirm.

A spokesperson for the PHA told Belfast Live that each type of lateral flow test has its own set of instructions and that people should be conscious of what their test requires before taking it.

They said: "Testing remains one of the most important tools that we have in the fight against Covid-19. Around one third of those with Covid-19 can have no symptoms, so taking a lateral flow device (LFD) test can identify the virus and help you take the appropriate steps to stop the spread of the virus to others.

"There are a number of different LFD tests in use in Northern Ireland and each has their own specific instructions. In your household, you may have more than one type of test kit so it is very important that you read the instructions on each kit to make sure you’re using it properly.

"Don’t just assume they all follow the same process, some can be nose-only swabs and some you need to swab both throat and nose."

The PHA stressed that it is essential to use the LFD test correctly to get the correct result and time should be taken to read the instructions carefully before carrying one out.

They continued: "LFD tests are quick and easy to use at home and can provide results in up to 30 minutes. If you are mixing with anyone outside of your household, it is recommended taking a LFD test before you go to help protect against spreading the virus to others. Regular twice weekly lateral flow testing is also encouraged.

"If your result is positive, isolate immediately and it is important to report the result online at - Reporting online will trigger contact tracing processes.

"Currently, most people do not need a PCR test to confirm a positive LFD test result. People who are in a group at highest risk of severe Covid-19, and therefore eligible for new Covid-19 treatments, should continue to get a confirmatory PCR if a lateral flow test is positive."

The PHA wish to remind the public that it is important to report every lateral flow result online even if it is negative.

The spokesperson added: "Don’t forget that a negative result doesn’t mean you can stop following all the other public health advice. It is still crucial to limit your contacts, practise good hand and respiratory hygiene, wear a face covering where required, keep rooms well-ventilated or meet outdoors when possible, and get vaccinated including getting your booster dose.

"If you develop any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 – a high temperature, or a new, continuous cough, or a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste no matter how mild, book a PCR test.

"It is important that when waiting for your test appointment and result that you isolate.

"All of the public health advice is simple, but it is there for a reason – to help keep us and those around us safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks and take every step available to help protect yourself, your loved ones and the community."

More details on testing can be found at

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