Health and Wellbeing

Confused by the difference between LFD and PCR tests?

Rapid lateral flow testing kit, laid out on a table top Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Posted on: 12 July 2021

We’re still hearing that people with symptoms of coronavirus are using lateral flow device (LFD) tests to find out whether they have the virus. 

But lateral flow tests are for people who have no symptoms to use regularly to quickly check if they have the virus without realising.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said: 

“Lateral flow device tests are for people who do not show any symptoms of having coronavirus.

“If you have any coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and arrange a free PCR test. These are the tests that are sent to a laboratory to be analysed. PCR test results are sequenced in labs to pick up variants of concern, which is why it’s important to have a PCR test if you have symptoms. You will get your result within a few days.  You can book PCR tests online, or by phoning 119. 

“While waiting for your result, you and anyone you live with must still self-isolate. Self-isolating is a vital step in preventing the spread of coronavirus and it’s essential that we strictly follow that rule.”

If you test negative with a PCR test, you would not need to continue self-isolating unless there are other reasons to do so, for example because you live with someone else who is waiting for their PCR test results or has tested positive or you’ve been told to self-isolate because you’ve been identified as a close contact with someone else who has tested positive. 

If you do not show symptoms, please routinely use the LFD tests to find out whether you are likely to be carrying the virus, unknowingly.  One in three people with the virus do not show symptoms, so the LFD tests are an important part of identifying those with the virus to help stop it spreading. To find out more about COVID-19 testing in Devon, including where to get tests, please visit our website.

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