Covid-19: PCR tests no longer needed for people in NI with positive lateral flow results

The Department of Health has said that from today anyone in Northern Ireland who receives a positive lateral flow test no longer has to get a PCR test to confirm the result.

Instead, if your lateral flow test if positive, you should assume you have Covid-19 and that you are infectious.

You should immediately self-isolate immediately for the required period. You won’t need to take a confirmatory PCR test.

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The Department says it is extremely important that anyone with a positive lateral flow test reports it. This will trigger contact tracing processes to alert people you have been in close contact with and to provide them with advice regarding their potential to become infected and spread the virus.

If you have a condition that puts you at highest risk from Covid, reporting your lateral flow test will alert your clinical team to your positive result.

Lateral flow results should be reported online at https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

If you cannot use the online service, you should call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines) to report the result of your lateral flow test.

The Department stresses that the removal of the requirement for a confirmatory PCR testing is a temporary measure in response to the very high prevalence of Covid-19 in NI at present.

PCR tests are no longer needed for those with positive lateral flow in Northern Ireland.

It says that when prevalence of Covid is high, a positive lateral flow test is a reliable indicator of current infection.

With infections at the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic and demand for tests very high, it makes sense to use LFD and PCR tests where they have the most impact in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and protecting the most vulnerable.

If you have a positive COVID-19 test, the earliest you can end your period of self-isolation is on day seven - providing your lateral flow tests on day six and seven are both negative and you do not have a high temperature.

Your day six and day seven lateral flow tests should be at least 24 hours apart. If either is positive, you should continue to isolate until you get two negative lateral flow tests taken 24 hours apart, or after you have completed 10 full days of isolation – whichever is earlier.

PCR tests are no longer needed for anyone in Northern Ireland who has a positive lateral flow test. File picture. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press

Associate Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Joanne McClean said: “If a person gets a positive lateral flow result they should assume they have Covid-19.

“While removing the need for a confirmatory PCR test will help free up PCR capacity, it ensures that PCR tests are focused where they will give most public health and clinical benefit given the current high levels of disease.

“This includes maintaining PCR testing for those who are clinically vulnerable, allowing new Covid-19 treatments to be deployed in the event of a positive test.

“I would really underline the importance of people reporting the results from their lateral flow tests. This allows contact tracing to be initiated and also helps us to monitor the progression of the pandemic.”