How to get a coronavirus test – including home kits and the new 90-minute test

TWO new tests that will detect Covid-19 and the flu are set to be deployed in hospitals and care homes next week.

The tests can deliver results within 90 minutes and have been hailed as a "crucial instrument" in the fight against the pandemic.

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One test uses nasal swabs while the other take saliva and nose swab samples.

So far in the UK more than 46,000 people have died in hospitals from the coronavirus.

The roll out of more testing options could help the country return to some sort of normality as we begin to reopen more businesses and facilities.

Some tests can be carried out at home and you can do this if you are over the age of 12.

This is while some tests require a blood sample and need to be conducted by a medical professional.

But what are the different types of Covid-19 tests and how are they administered?



Who can get a test?

The government website states that you can get a test for yourself if you have had Covid symptoms, if someone you live with has symptoms, if you have been told to take a test before surgery or if you work or study in an area where there has been an outbreak.

To do this you can get an at home testing kit or go to a testing site near you.

The government tests are free.

The government states: "If you have coronavirus symptoms, you need to get a test done as soon as possible. You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

"Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.

"On days 1 to 4, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you’re ordering a home test kit on day 4, do so by 3pm.

"On day 5, you need to go to a test site. It’s too late to order a home test kit."

The 90 minute tests

Made by Oxford Nanopore, the first the 90 minute test requires a saliva or nasal sample.

From next week 450,000 of the LamPORE tests will be made available across adult care settings.

A machine can process around 15,000 tests a day and a portable machine can also be moved to where pop up labs are needed in places that have seenan increase in cases.

The Department for Health and Social Care said millions more tests would be rolled out later in the year.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said this test would help "break the chain of transmission".

The second of the 90 minutes tests is an offering from a company that analyses people’s DNA from saliva in order to help them with their diets.

DNAnudge uses nasal swabs and these tests are set to be rolled out from September.

The company is supplying 5,000 boxes that process the tests – with a capacity of 15 a day.

The aim is to provide 5.8 million tests in the next few months and this has already been trialled in eight London hospitals.

Antigen test

At the moment, most labs use the PCR method for antigen testing.

It can take days for labs to run the tests, meaning medics often can't tell patients if they have the virus for 72 hours.

Antigens are found on the surface of invading pathogens, including coronavirus.

Testing for antigens can determine whether someone is currently carrying the virus and are actively infectious.

The NHS is currently using antigen tests in hospitals to determine if someone is currently infected with Covid-19.

Samples are taken using a swab – which resemble a large cotton bud – from deep inside the nose and throat before being sent off to a lab for testing.

Antibody test

When a person gets infected with antigen, the body starts making specially designed proteins called antibodies in response – as a way to fight the infection.

After they recover, those antibodies float in the blood for months, maybe even years.

That's the body's way of defending itself in case it becomes infected with the virus again.

So an antibody test specifically looks for antibodies which will be able to tell whether you've already been exposed to Covid-19.

Anyone who has already had the illness is presumed to be immune to getting it again – at least, in the intermediate term.

This would allow them to go back to work safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to become infected again or pass the virus on.

The check that has been developed for Covid-19 is a finger-prick blood test, with the samples sent to laboratories and results available within a few days.

Dr Hilary Jones, a GP and resident doctor on Good Morning Britain, explained that it works "almost like a pregnancy test, except you need a drop of blood".

Last week it was also revealed that an £11 test could be used to screen travellers going to Italy.

The rapid diagnostic tests give results in just 12 minutes and could be given to every passenger who enters the country.

The person being given the Standard Q Covid-19 test will be asked to use the nasal swab.

If the sample provided contains Covid particles, the antibodies already included on the test will bind them and the swab will turn red to show that the person is infected.

Last month Superdrug became the first store to offer coronavirus antibody blood tests.

Why is testing key?

While we still don't have a vaccine for the coronavirus, testing is one way to stop the spread.

Testing can allow local authorities to pick up trends in how the virus moves through a community.

This also helps when it comes to implementing local lockdowns, as has been seen in places such as Leicester.

According to the Gov.UK website, 115,939 coronavirus tests were carried out on Sunday, while almost 8.4 million tests have been carried out since the outbreak began.

On April 2, the Government set a target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

Last month it was revealed Boris Johnson failed to meet his target of having all coronavirus tests completed within 24 hours by the end of June.

Statistics from the Department of Health and Social Care suggested that only 91 per cent of in-person tests were completed within the time frame between June 25 and July 1.

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