CHANGES in coronavirus rules mean that fewer people now need to take PCR tests – but they are still crucial to stop the virus spreading.
In the face of the surge in Omicron cases the Government changed the rules so some people won't have to wait for a follow up PCR test, after getting a positive lateral flow.
Those testing positive on a lateral flow are now required to isolate for five full days, and can leave quarantine on day six after negative tests on day five and six.
But for some people, a PCR is still necessary.
If you've got symptoms of the virus, you can get a test and there are 12 other reasons that you can still access a follow up PCR.
The NHS says you can get a free PCR test if you have a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell.
You need to self-isolate straight away until you get your results.
Do not leave home, except to post a test kit or for a PCR test appointment.
You can also do a lateral flow test at home which takes just 30 minutes and due to Omicron cases being high across the UK, people are urged to just take these.
While Omicron cases remain high, they are falling and most people who catch the bug say they have cold-like symptoms.
Most read in Health
Hated covid passes 'SCRAPPED within 2 weeks as Omicron cases plunge'
Brave Sun columnist Deborah James reveals she nearly died in medical emergency
Daily Covid infections drop to 109,133 as Javid hails falling hospital cases
Find out how long YOU will live with this simple test
A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other Covid strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
🔵 Follow our Covid live blog for all the latest updates
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
What is a PCR Covid test?
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are the gold standard and are sent off to a lab to be properly processed – unlike lateral flow tests that can be completed at home in less than an hour.
PCR swabs can be taken at a drive-through centre or can be sent to you at home.
It is sent to a laboratory where a lab technician looks for genetic material of the virus using highly specialised equipment.
The PCR tests are much better at finding very small amounts of the virus, especially early during an infection.
So these are used primarily in people who have Covid symptoms.
How does it work?
It uses a long cotton bud, which takes a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat.
PCR tests – which are mainly for people with Covid symptoms – are sent to a lab to be checked.
If you have any of these three Covid symptoms, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed.
You can order an NHS PCR test kit to be sent to your home.
You need to get the test done in the first eight days of having symptoms.
How long do results take from a PCR Covid test?
Most people typically get their result the next day, but it can take up to three days.
NHS Test and Trace figures show around 95 per cent of people get a result in 24 hours if they are tested under Pillar 1, which covers places like hospitals and outbreak spots.
But around 60 per cent of those tested at large drive-through centres, under Pillar 2, get their result back in 24 hours.
The figure is lower (55 per cent) for those that do their test at home.
The turnaround time has historically fluctuated depending on the Covid outbreak at the time.
For example, results may take longer to come back during very busy periods or peaks of waves because labs are swamped with tests.
Usually the result is sent to you via text or email when it's ready. If you have the NHS Covid-19 app, the result might come to you that way.
If you do not get your results by day six, then call 119. Calls to 119 are free from a landline or mobile phone. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm.
Do I have to self-isolate after I test positive for Covid-19?
If you test positive for Covid, you have to self-isolate.
It's a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you don't.
You should not leave the house for any reason, including for work or to go to the shops.
Self-isolate immediately if you have symptoms or have had a positive test result.
What are the isolation rules?
Yesterday the government announced that isolation rules would be slashed to five days, after previously cutting it from 10 days to seven.
The new rules mean if you test negative using lateral flow tests on day six and seven of isolation, with tests taken 24 hours apart, no longer have to self-isolate.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day six of the self-isolation period.
If you tested positive with no symptoms on a lateral flow, you don't need to take a PCR anymore, and this counts as day one of your isolation.
If you had symptoms and then tested positive on a lateral flow, your isolation began when you first noted symptoms.
But those who leave self-isolation on or after day seven are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness.
Although new rules coming in on January 17, will mean people in England can leave isolation after five full days, if they test negative on day five and six.
If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started and the next seven full days – unless you keep testing positive.
Source: Read Full Article