Last reviewed 11 January 2022

The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) advice for health and social care staff who have a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result has changed as they are no longer required to have a follow-up PCR test and should, with some exceptions, stay at home and self-isolate immediately.

The Government’s advice, set out in Covid-19: Management of Staff and Exposed Patients or Residents in Health and Social Care Settings, was updated on 11 January 2022 to remove the requirement for people testing positive on an LFD test to have the confirmatory PCR test.

The advice for health and social care staff returning to England from another country has also changed. Staff entering from any country not on the red list are no longer required to take a daily LFD test until day 10 after return from travel.

There is additional advice for health and social care staff with a positive LFD test after 10 days of self-isolation. Managers can undertake a risk assessment of staff who test positive between 10 and 14 days.

After each LFD test, staff should report the test results on the GOV.UK website.

The guidance gives a list of criteria for staff to meet before being able to then return to work.

Also, advice now says if the staff member’s LFD test result is positive on the 10th day, they should continue to take daily LFD tests and can return to work after a single negative LFD test result.

If the staff member’s LFD test result is still positive on the 14th day, they can stop testing and return to work on day 15 but if the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to Covid-19, a risk assessment should be undertaken and consideration given to redeployment.

This reflects temporary advice issued to the general public in England, here, that from 11 January people who receive positive LFD test results for Covid-19 will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take the confirmatory PCR test. This measure will remain in place while Covid-19 rates stay high across the UK and the vast majority of people with positive LFD results can be confident that they have Covid-19.

It says anyone who develops one of the three main Covid-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test. The rules have not changed that state people must self-isolate if they get a positive PCR test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test.

Confirmatory PCRs were previously paused, then reintroduced in March 2021 following a reduction in Covid-19 prevalence.