Covid-19: Lateral Flow Test update

The Council would like to thank you all your efforts to make the wider opening of schools so successful.  Following discussion with Public Health colleagues, the Council feel there are a couple of areas where it would be helpful to provide some clarity regarding types of tests and actions following test results.

Types of test

Lateral flow device (LFD) tests are for individuals without symptoms and the regular testing of primary school staff with these devices is a crucial part of keeping the school community safe.

This does not replace the need for PCR tests to be taken where any individual develops symptoms of coronavirus. These PCR tests are taken at a testing site or via a home test kit and are then sent away to a lab, with results taking approx. 48 hours.  Details on PCR test sites in Waltham Forest are here.

Reporting LFT results

I just wanted to remind you that all positive LFTs (as well as PCRs as you have previously been doing) need to be reported to our local Public Health team.  The attached pro forma needs to be completed and emailed to Public Health as a matter of priority on the day the positive test result is returned.  It is important to continue to inform public health, so that the infection control action being taken for any individual case is quality assured, so there is a clear opportunity for schools to escalate concerns, issues or questions around positive cases; and so that the local authority has a clear picture of the overall impact on COVID-19 of the return to schools, to be able to take strategic decisions appropriately.

Actions following a positive LFT result

There has also been some confusion reported regarding the actions to take following a positive LFT result which I wanted to make clear.

1. Confirmatory PCR tests

Anyone who receives a positive LFD result needs to be advised to self-isolate immediately for 10 days from the date of the positive LFD test. Close contacts during the infectious period (the previous 48 hours) need to be identified and advised to isolate for 10 days on the basis of the positive LFT result.

LFD tests undertaken at home (i.e. current primary staff testing) need to get a confirmatory PCR test, but isolation of the case and close contacts should happen immediately on the basis of the positive LFT result. If the PCR result comes back negative, then the isolation can be advised to end for the individual and close contacts. Please update the Waltham Forest Public Health team by emailing public.health@walthamforest.gov.uk if a confirmatory PCR result (for an individual that had a positive LFD result) comes back negative and you are advising that isolation is no longer needed.

LFD tests undertaken at a community LFD testing site do NOT need a confirmatory PCR result.

2. Self-isolation of close contacts

All close contacts of confirmed cases are required to self-isolate for 10 days from the point of last contact with the confirmed case. The programme of testing close contacts daily to enable them to remain in school was  withdrawn by government, pending further evidence gathering and pilots.

Please refer to the LCRC resource pack and the FAQs on testing for more information.