Rapid lateral flow tests are for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can see the result on a device similar to a pregnancy test, usually in 30 minutes.
There's separate information on how to do a PCR test, the type of test you usually do if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Before doing a rapid lateral flow test
If you're doing the test at home:
- do not eat for 30 minutes as it may affect the result
- read the instructions carefully
- clean the surface you're putting the test on
- check that nothing in the test kit is damaged or broken
- start the test within 30 minutes of opening the test kit
Main steps for doing a rapid lateral flow test
You'll be given detailed instructions with your test kit. If you're doing the test at a test site and need support, a trained helper can guide you.
These are the main steps for doing a rapid lateral flow test:
- Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitiser.
- Lay out all the items in the test kit on the clean surface.
- Fill the tube in the test kit with the liquid provided and close the lid.
- Blow your nose and wash your hands again.
- Open your mouth wide and rub the swab over your tonsils (or where they would have been). Avoid the end of the swab touching your teeth, tongue and gums.
- Put the same swab inside your nose (about 2.5 cm up or until you feel some resistance).
- Put the end of the swab into the tube so it's in the liquid.
- Squeeze the liquid from the tube onto the test strip.
- Wait 30 minutes and read your result.
It's important you do not leave it longer than 30 minutes as it may affect the result.
Taking a sample may be uncomfortable and make you gag, but it should not hurt.
Doing the test on someone else
If you're doing a rapid lateral flow test on someone else, it might help to:
- talk them through the steps
- try to remain calm
- get another person to help you
- use a torch to see their tonsils
- get them to say "ahhhhhhh" loudly so you can see their tonsils
Stop doing the test if the person becomes distressed.
It's important to use a separate test kit for each person.
If you cannot swab their tonsils, you can swab both nostrils instead. The test result may be less accurate than a nose and a tonsil swab.
Getting your result
How you get your result depends on if you do the test at a test site or at home.