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COVID-19 FAQ: Rapid non-symptomatic COVID-19 testing

We strongly encourage all colleagues and students on campus to take a lateral flow test twice a week, even if you have been vaccinated, to provide extra reassurance that you do not have COVID-19.

Please note: if you are already showing any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss/change of your sense of taste or smell, you should book a PCR test through the national NHS testing system and let your line manager know. 

Students can find information about lateral flow testing on Essentials. 

General lateral flow testing FAQs:

Testing using home test kits FAQs:

How often should I take a lateral flow test and why?

Research shows that 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 display no symptoms, so it is important that you keep regularly testing to ensure that you are not unknowingly carrying the virus, and potentially passing it on to others.

In line with PHE guidance, colleagues and students who are on campus are strongly advised to take a lateral flow test twice a week, ideally 3 days apart. Although not mandatory, testing can identify those who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 but are unknowingly carrying the virus.

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Do I need to take regular lateral flow tests (LFT) if I have already had COVID-19?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days you are likely to have developed some immunity to it. For this reason, you may choose not to take an LFT during this period. If you develop new COVID-19 symptoms during these 90 days you should take a PCR test. 

You must begin a new period of self-isolation if you:

  • receive a positive PCR test result
  • develop new symptoms
  • are contacted by NHS Test & Trace as a close contact of a positive case.

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Should I continue to take regular lateral flow tests even if I have had the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Public Health England recommends you continue regular lateral flow testing even after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It is not yet known whether vaccination stops people from catching and passing on the virus, so you may still unknowingly spread the virus on to others, including those who have not yet been vaccinated. Additionally, despite demonstrating a high level of protection against COVID-19, no vaccine is completely effective, which means you could still become infected with the virus despite having been vaccinated, although your symptoms should be less severe.

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Will my lateral flow test results be affected if I have had the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The vaccines being used produce a protective immune, or antibody, response which does not affect the nose and throat swab test. The lateral flow test detects a different protein of the virus than the one encoded in the vaccine, and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test detects different genes of the virus than the one included in the vaccine.

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Will students need to show proof of a negative test?

We will strongly encourage all students to participate in regular testing, although students will not be required to provide evidence of a negative test result in order to attend face-to-face teaching.

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Testing using home test kits FAQs:

Where can I collect home test kits on campus?

To make testing as easy and straightforward as possible, you can pick up free home testing kits (a pack of seven) from the following collection point on campus:

Library Café: Monday to Thursday - 13:00 - 16:00

The government recommends that you take three assisted lateral flow tests at a testing centre to familiarise yourself with the process before using home test kits. You can find local sites offering assisted lateral flow tests on the government website.

Please note: If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you should take a PCR test as soon as possible, rather than a lateral flow test.

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What happens when I go to collect my home test kits on campus?

When collecting your home test kits, you are required to scan your Campus Card. The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) requires the University to collect certain information about people collecting test kits, and we are processing this on their instructions. We may need to contact you if, for example, any faulty home test kits need to be recalled. View the DHSC privacy notice.

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How do I report my result?

The home lateral flow test usually takes around 30 minutes to produce a result. If you take a test at home it is very important that you report your test result on the government website - whether it is positive or negative. The government will be closely monitoring university participation in the home testing scheme to inform further decisions about future activities on campus.

On the government website you will be asked to select the University you study or work at. Type ‘University of Reading' and then please select the option ‘University of Reading RG6 6UR'.

We recommend you create an account on the government website so which will make it quicker to report your test results each time.

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What should I do if I test positive/negative using a home test kit?

If you test positive, please let your line manager know.  You and should self-isolate immediately and book a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible. Members of your household should also self-isolate, unless they are not required to do so based on the NHS guidance .  If the follow-up PCR test is positive, you must complete your full isolation period. Your isolation period starts immediately from when your symptoms started, or, if you do not have any symptoms, from when your follow-up PCR test was taken. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your follow-up PCR test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. If the follow-up PCR test result is negative, you and your household contacts can stop self-isolating.

If you test negative, please still report your result on the government website.

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Where else can I get home test kits?

You can find local sites offering assisted lateral flow tests on the government website.

  • London Road testing centre

You can pick up home test kits without an appointment at the NHS walk-in test centre at The Great Hall on our London Road campus.

  • By post

If you can't collect a home test kit from campus, you can order a pack of seven test kits from the NHS to be delivered to your home quickly by post.

  • From a local pharmacy

You can also collect home test kits from many local pharmacies, including:

Closest to Shinfield Road:

  • Lloyds Pharmacy, 69 Christchurch Road, Reading, RG2 7AZ
  • Enimed, 85-87 Erleigh Road, Reading, RG1 5NN
  • P.S.G Pharma, 105 Wokingham Road, Reading, RG6 1LN

Closest to Earley Gate:

  • Boots, 5 The Parade, Silverdale Road, Earley, RG6 7NZ

Closest to London Road:

  • Enimed, 195 London Road, Reading, RG1 3NX

To find out about other pharmacies near you offering test kits, please visit the government website.

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