9 in 10 Pharmacies Now Offering Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests

9 in 10 Pharmacies Now Offering Free Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Over 90% of community pharmacies in England now offering free, rapid tests for home use.

Rapid, regular testing is now available to everyone in England and the new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service provides an additional route to regular testing, making it as easy as possible for people without COVID-19 symptoms to access testing twice a week.

The Pharmacy Collect service is available to people aged over 18 without symptoms, who are able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home. Each box will allow the person to test themselves twice weekly within a 3-week timeframe.

Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, testing will form a crucial part of everyday life as parts of society reopen. Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they can spread the virus without knowing it. Regular testing continues to play a critical role in stopping the spread of the virus and breaking the chains of transmission.

An online checker has launched so people can find their nearest pharmacy offering free rapid test kits.

Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. Rapid tests are available through:

  • a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home
  • workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home
  • community testing, offered by all local authorities
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
  • testing on site at schools and colleges

New analysis by NHS Test and Trace shows lateral flow (LFD) tests to have a specificity of at least 99.9%. This means that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is fewer than one false positive result. All positive results from LFD tests must be followed up with a confirmatory PCR test within 72 hours. Confirmatory PCR testing will also mean variants of concern are detected more quickly.

If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or by calling 119, even if they get a negative result. They should self-isolate if they get a positive result and order a confirmatory PCR test online or by calling 119.

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Helen Macefield reports on UK news.