Children Covid tests: Difference between lateral flow & PCR test – Isolation rules change

Children Covid tests: Difference between lateral flow & PCR test – Isolation rules change


Gavin Williamson says school holiday cuts are 'being looked at'

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Primary school pupils across England will step back into the classroom today after months out of education. The Government reintroduced the strictest Covid measures one day after they went back to school on January 4, barring anyone but the children of key workers from face-to-face teaching. With its roadmap in place, officials want to keep infections low, and their solution is to introduce regular testing for schools. However, there is some confusion about the change to the self-isolation rules.

What is the difference between lateral flow and PCR tests?

The Government has confirmed the return to school hinges on regular Covid testing.

In a statement, ministers confirmed “twice-weekly” testing would be made available to households with primary, secondary and college-aged children.

Any household with a member who tests positive will have to isolate immediately.

The primary method touted by the Government is lateral flow testing.

These tests produce results in 30 minutes after administering a nose and throat swab.

The test then returns a colour-coded result, showing whether someone is infected or not.

Health workers use these tests for people without Covid symptoms but are still infectious.

Although quick, lateral flow tests aren’t as accurate as their PCR counterparts.

These detect antigens in the blood rather than an immune reaction to the virus.

As such, they are much more accurate and can tell if someone has Covid early on and without symptoms.

Despite this, however, ministers have signalled only the results of a lateral flow test will count.

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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today, schools minister Vicky Ford said children who receive a positive lateral flow test must stay away from school.

The rule remains even if children receive a positive from this test and then get a negative PCR result.

People who come into contact with someone who receives a positive test must self-isolate for seven days.

Anyone who tests positive themselves must self-isolate for ten days, starting the day after their symptoms began.

Testing will become a central tenet of the latest return to school, as Ms Ford said she hoped to make the return to school “irreversible”.

She told LBC Radio: “We absolutely want to make this irreversible.

“We don’t want to go back to a situation where all schools are closed.

“This has to be an irreversible path out of lockdown.”

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