Photo of two lateral flow COVID-19 tests. One is positive and has two lines displayed and one is negative with one line displayed.

PCR test no longer needed if you have a positive result from a lateral flow test

January 11, 2022

From today, the 11th January 2022 in England, people who receive positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.

This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 rates remain high across the UK. Whilst levels of COVID-19 are high, the vast majority of people with positive LFD results can be confident that they have COVID-19.


Where to get lateral flow tests


I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 through my rapid lateral flow test – what do I do next?

Anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test result, no matter how faint the test line is, should report their result on GOV.UK and must self-isolate immediately but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.

After reporting a positive lateral flow test result, you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace so that your contacts can be traced and must continue to self-isolate.

In line with the reduced self-isolation approach introduced on the 22nd December 2021, anyone who tests positive will be able to leave self-isolation 7 days after the date of their initial positive test if they receive 2 negative lateral flow test results, 24 hours apart, on days 6 and 7. If they are positive they must continue to self isolate. 

Analysis by NHS Test and Trace shows LFD tests to have an estimated specificity of at least 99.97% when used in the community. This means that for every 10,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there are likely to be fewer than 3 false positive results. LFD tests identify the most infectious people. These people tend to spread the virus to many people and so identifying them remains important.

Government Covid test information