What Is an LFD Covid-19 Test for Travel?
The UK government has given out more than 150 million Covid-19 vaccinations. However, testing remains one of the essential ways used to identify those infected and also to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 infection.
One of the key Covid tests used in the UK is the rapid lateral flow test, sometimes referred to as lateral flow device (LFD). In the UK, lateral flow devices have been used for mass testing by the government in the past. Most people have also used them for travel and self-testing due to their ease of use and affordability. For instance, the popular FlowFlex Covid test price at CovidTests is very low at £1.99.
So, how does the LFD Covid-19 test for travel work, and where can one order LFD tests?
What Is a Lateral Flow Test?
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us many things. For instance, although lateral flow testing has been around even before Covid, most of us learnt about it due to the pandemic.
A lateral flow test is an affordable and fast way of testing for Covid-19. Lateral flow testing determines if someone has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The test gives quick results in under 30 minutes. Lateral flow tests are often used in asymptomatic testing, which involves screening people without symptoms. Due to their ease of use, lateral flow tests are also used for self-testing.
Free lateral flow tests are available in the UK but only for specific people, such as those who are in hospitals and social care staff.
However, if you aren’t eligible for the free LFT, accessing testing in England is easy. You can order LFD test kits from online test providers for a small fee. Private test providers such as CovidTests have government-approved travel LFD tests such as the reliable Healgen rapid antigen test.
How Do Lateral Flow Tests Work?
So, how do LFD tests work?
Lateral flow device tests use immunoassay technology to detect proteins or antigens that are unique to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The lateral flow testing device has an absorbent pad on one part, a strip of paper in the middle that changes colour depending on the test results, and a reading window on the far end.
During a lateral flow test, the following steps are followed:
- Sample collection is the first step, where a swab sample is taken from the person’s nose or back of the mouth and mixed with a buffer solution
- The collected sample is then put in the absorbent sample pad which draws up the solution along the lateral flow testing device. The sample then meets up with labelled binding antibodies. If the antibodies recognize certain proteins (antigens) of the Covid-19 virus, they will bind to them
- The antibodies that do not bind to the virus will attach to the test strip control pad and form a coloured line indicating that the test was a success. The lack of a coloured strip on the control point indicates that the test was invalid and needs to be repeated
- After 10 to 20 minutes, another coloured band will appear if the person has a Covid-19 infection. This is an indication of a positive Covid-19 test result. If no other coloured line appears other than on the control strip, then the person doesn’t have a Covid-19 infection, and the test result is concluded to be negative
Covid Rules of Traveling to England, and Abroad
All Covid-19 travel requirements to England and other parts of the UK have been removed. Travellers visiting the UK no longer need to take any Covid-19 tests or quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. In the past, travellers arriving in England were also expected to fill out a passenger locator form, but this too is no longer necessary.
However, the NHS continues to give travel advice to those arriving in England, urging them to follow the Covid-19 rules and guidance, which includes staying at home if one is feeling unwell. Those who have a positive Covid-19 test result should also self-isolate at home for at least five days.
The NHS also advises those who need to leave England for other countries or those leaving other countries to come to England to check the travel advice for such countries. For instance, some countries will require one to take a travel lateral flow test as one of their entry requirements. Other destinations may have different travel requirements, which is why it’s important to check both the exit and entry requirements of these destinations.
How to Take an LFD Test
Lateral flow testing usually involves collecting a sample from the throat or nasal areas. A long soft swab is used for sample collection. When collecting the sample, ensure you read the instructions and follow them carefully. Once the sample is collected, you will dip it in a provided extraction solution and then drip the solution into the device absorbent paper pad.
The lateral flow testing device is very similar to a pregnancy test kit as it has both the control and the test lines. A positive Covid-19 result will be shown by two coloured bands both on the control and the test lines, no matter how faint. If the result is negative, a coloured band will only be visible on the control line. A void result is when there is no coloured band on the control line.
If you’re using the NHS free LFT, you’ll need to register an LFD test result here within 24 hours after testing.
In closing, lateral flow Covid-19 test for travel is an effective and quick way of testing for an active Covid-19 infection. If you’re visiting England, you can order LFD tests online at CovidTests. The lateral flow tests purchase price at CovidTests is affordable, and all the tests are government-approved.