‘Lateral Flow before you go’

Date published: 10 December 2021

Health Minister Robin Swann has emphasised that free Rapid Lateral Flow Tests are available online and from a network of local pharmacies.

And he underlined the importance of using Rapid Lateral Flow Tests regularly to help keep family and friends safe this winter.

The Minister stressed that using Lateral Flow Tests does not remove the need to follow other important public health requirements.

“Lateral flow tests should be seen as another line of defence against the virus. We also need to keep making safer choices in our daily lives. That includes vaccination, wearing face coverings, meeting up outdoors or in well ventilated settings, limiting our contacts and washing hands frequently and well,” the Minister said.

“By limiting contacts, I mean focusing on quality not quantity of contacts - prioritising the people that mean most to us and taking all those steps that can help keep us safe.”

By taking a Lateral Flow Test before before you meet up, you can help protect the people close to you and reduce the pressures on health and social care services.

Anyone who is meeting friends or family, or attending an event or social gathering, is advised to take a test before they go. It’s particularly important to test before visiting or meeting someone who is older or more vulnerable. Regular twice weekly lateral flow testing is also encouraged.

You should also take a Lateral Flow Test before travelling home to Northern Ireland from GB or RoI.

It is vital to report every result online, even if it’s negative. This helps us track the spread of the virus, identify areas of concern, and provide support in communities that need it. Results should be reported on the .gov.uk website. Over one million Lateral Flow Test results have already been reported in Northern Ireland during the pandemic.

Free Lateral Flow Tests are available from a range of convenient sources, including:

  • online home delivery
  • collection at over 580 sites across Northern Ireland, including over 500 community pharmacies
  • workforce testing schemes

If you have symptoms, please self-isolate and book a PCR test. If your Lateral Flow test is positive, self-isolate and book a PCR test.

One in three people with COVID-19 has no symptoms of illness. Rapid testing can detect the virus in people who have no symptoms, so they can take steps to prevent unknowingly passing COVID-19 to their loved ones. Lateral Flow Tests are particularly effective at identifying if you’re likely to be infectious to others.  The emergence of the omicron variant underlines the importance of Rapid Lateral Flow Testing.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Visit nidirect.gov.uk/testing to find out more about Lateral Flow Testing.
  1. A list of more than 580 locations across Northern Ireland, including over 500 community pharmacies, where you can pick up free Lateral Flow Tests can be found at maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk.
  1. Tests can also be ordered online for free home delivery at gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.
  1. Lateral Flow Tests should only be used by those with no symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test instead.
  1. If your Lateral Flow Test result is positive, you should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test. Details on how to do this can be found at www.pha.site/cvtesting.
  1. Rapid Tests, using Lateral Flow Devices, are safe and the results are trusted. The tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation to ensure they are reliable.
  1. Fully vaccinated close contacts should book a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of the 10-day period following last contact with the person who tested positive. They are also encouraged to take daily Lateral Flow Tests as soon as possible after identification as a close contact.
  1. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.
  1. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  1. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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