Coronavirus testing in Northamptonshire

​COVID-19 testing is available across Northamptonshire, in a variety of forms, depending on whether you have symptoms or not.



Temporary measures - Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive LFD results

From 11 January 2022 in England, people who receive a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result for COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately and won't be required to take a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

This is a temporary measure while COVID-19 rates remain high across the UK. Whilst levels of COVID-19 are high, the vast majority of people with positive LFD results can be confident that they have COVID-19.

For residents experiencing symptoms, you will need to get a PCR test, this is known as symptomatic testing.

For residents who are not experiencing symptoms but need or want to be tested regularly, you are required to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test, this is a form of asymptomatic testing.

Types of COVID-19 testing

Symptomatic PCR Testing

PCR tests are mainly used to confirm coronavirus cases in people with symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should begin self-isolation and while you are waiting for your test result, you must continue to self-isolate.

A PCR test works by swabbing the inside of your nose and the back of your throat. The sample is sent to a lab and you usually get a result in a couple of days.

Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Testing for people with symptoms

Asymptomatic LFD Testing (rapid testing)

If you test positive using a LFD then you must self-isolate for 10 days as per the current guidance.

However, since 30 March 2021, anyone who has had a positive result with an LFD test has been encouraged to take a follow-up PCR.

The follow-up test uses the lab-processed “gold standard” PCR test. This means that, if you have a positive LFD test and then a negative PCR within 48 hours you will no longer be legally required to isolate, and you and your contacts will receive a message from NHS Test and Trace informing you of this.

For further information on asymptomatic testing and how to book, go to our asymptomatic testing page.

Testing for people without symptoms

Self-isolation advice

From Monday 17 January, people with COVID-19 in England can end their self-isolation after 5 full days, as long as they test negative on day 5 and day 6. This decision has been made after careful consideration of modelling from the UK Health Security Agency and to support essential public services and workforces over the winter.

It is crucial that people isolating with COVID-19 wait until they have received 2 negative rapid lateral flow tests on 2 consecutive days to reduce the chance of still being infectious. These results must be reported before individuals return to their job or education if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10-day period.

The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. If an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on day 6 and day 7 to release from isolation, or positive on day 6, then a negative test is required on days 7 and 8, and so on until the end of day 10.

Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are strongly advised to wear face coverings and limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home if they can do so and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19.

The default self-isolation period continues to be 10 days and you may only leave self-isolation early if you have taken 2 rapid lateral flow tests and do not have a temperature, in line with guidance. Self-isolation may continue in certain circumstances, such as for those who work with vulnerable people.