Great Britain

Flow ahead and get the test

LIFE is returning to normal as Covid-19 cases fall across the UK. We’re enjoying meeting friends and family in the park, having a haircut, and sipping pints in a pub garden – but now we need to take a simple test to help stop the virus spreading.

To help keep everyone safe, we’re following the Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidelines, but as lockdown eases, it’s time to add another habit to our routines – having a free Covid test twice a week.

We know how to spot symptoms of the deadly virus – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to our sense of smell or taste. But you can have Covid without any symptoms at all.

You might feel fine, yet still be passing the virus on without knowing it. That’s why it’s important to take regular rapid Covid-19 tests, which are almost 100 per cent accurate, so if you test positive you can self-isolate to avoid infecting others and possibly save lives.

GPs fully support the tests. One, Dr Amir Khan, explains: “Around one in three people who have coronavirus don’t have any symptoms. Rapid testing is effective at detecting people who are infectious, and helping us find Covid-19 cases we otherwise wouldn’t know about.

“Testing regularly, even when you don’t have symptoms, means we can keep infection levels low, and our country safe.

“The tests give you a result within 30 minutes. When done correctly, they’re at least 99.9 per cent ‘specific’, which means the risk of false positives is extremely low – less than one in a thousand. It’s a very good test.”

You can be tested or pick up a rapid Covid-19 testing kit at a local testing site or a participating pharmacy, or order online at nhs.uk/Get-Tested or call 119.

If you’re sticking to social distancing rules or have had the vaccine, you might think you don’t need to take regular tests. You might also be tempted to save the tests for when you’re going out, or meeting up with other people.

But taking a test twice a week – or every three to four days – is the best way to detect coronavirus at the point it becomes highly infectious.

If you take the tests any further apart, you might miss the “window of infection” and

spread the virus without knowing. But regular testing helps drive down levels of the virus even if you’ve had the jab.

Tests are easy to do, involve just a gentle swab of your tonsils and one nostril, and only take around ten minutes. Each kit has simple instructions for you to test yourself.

Once you’ve had a test, report your results right away, even if the result is negative or void.

Scientists will use the anonymous information to spot patterns and outbreaks of the virus, which will also help reduce the risk of future lockdowns. You can report your results by visiting gov.uk/report-covid19-result or by calling 119.

If you test positive, self-isolate immediately, and visit nhs.uk/Get-Tested or call 119 to order a PCR test to confirm the result.

If you get a negative result, carry on being careful. You will still need to wear a mask, wash hands regularly and social distance.

So go with the flow and take the test. By taking this next step in helping stop the spread of the virus, we can all play our part in helping Britain keep moving.

‘I never developed any symptoms’

Alex, 29, from Hertfordshire

“I’m a driver for a company called JamVans, which has a delivery contract with a local hospice – it has about ten charity stores, and we help move their stock. One morning in February, I took a test before work, then sat in my van waiting for the results.

“I’d taken a few rapid Covid-19 tests before, and thought it would be completely fine, because I didn’t have any symptoms – but then the test came back positive.

“JamVans booked me a PCR test to confirm the result, and I was told I definitely had Covid-19. I couldn’t quite believe it – even when I was self-isolating, I still didn’t develop any symptoms, so without the test I would’ve carried on working.

“Imagine if I’d given Covid to my parents, my grandparents, or my colleagues? I know it sounds dramatic, but by taking the test I could have saved lives.”

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