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How to use a Covid self-test kit

We know one in three people show no symptoms at all. This means, as we interact with more people we could be spreading the virus without knowing it. 

That’s why every adult and child over 12 in England is advised to take a Lateral Flow Test, also known as a self-test kit, especially before going out to public places or to see vulnerable people. 

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to take a lateral flow test at home. 

The lateral flow test 

  • Self-test kits are only for those who feel well and are experiencing no Covid signs or symptoms.
  • The tests are quick and simple to take.
  • The results are ready in 30 minutes.
  • It’s advised that self-testing is completed twice a week (every 3-4 days).
  • Self-test kits are free. To order yours visit How to Order a self-test kit.

Inside your self-test kit, you’ll find

  • A swab
  • A set of instructions
  • A liquid solution
  • A tube to put the solution in
  • A specimen well to put the solution into

To take the test

  • Wash your hands with soap or a hand sanitiser and lay out of all the items above on a clean surface.
  • Open your mouth and gently rub the fabric tip of the swab over both tonsils (or where they would have been). Do this with firm contact 4 times on each side.
  • Next, put the fabric tip of the same swab gently into 1 nostril until you feel some resistance. Roll the swab firmly around the inside of your nostril, making 10 complete circles and slowly remove it. 
  • If you did not swab the tonsils, swab both nostrils, making 10 complete circles in each nostril. 

Processing the swab sample

  • Once you’ve taken a swab, place the fabric tip of the swab into the tube with the liquid and swirl it around for 15 seconds. This is to transfer your sample into the liquid. 
  • Press the cap tightly onto the tube of liquid and put the swab in the plastic waste bag provided. 
  • Gently squeeze the tube and place 2 drops of the liquid onto the specimen well (S) on the test strip. Make sure that you are dropping liquid and not an air bubble. When you’ve finished, put the tube in the plastic waste bag along with the swab.

Waiting for the results

  • Make sure you place the test strip on a flat surface. 
  • Do not move the strip during the test.

Reading your results

  • You should wait 30 minutes before you read your result. 
  • After 4 minutes, you will see the control line (C) begin to appear. One line next to C shows the test is negative. Two lines, one next to C and one next to T, even faint lines, shows the test is positive. 
  • No lines or one line next to T means the test is void. If your result is void, please take another test and try again. 
  • Once the result is ready, you need the QR code or ID number under it, on the test strip to report your result. Follow the instructions with the kit to report your result online or via telephone.

Your results

  • Once you’ve received your results add them to your NHS COVID-19 app.
  • If the test result is positive, you must stay at home and follow current self-isolation guidelines.
  • For more information about self-testing, visit NHS or

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