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Covid: 6 common mistakes people make when doing a lateral flow test - and how to properly take a test

You may be making common mistakes when conducting a lateral flow test

Many people throughout the UK are now taking lateral flow tests for Covid on a regular basis.

But what are the dos and don’ts when taking a lateral flow test, and the common mistakes you might be making?

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Here’s what you need to know.

What mistakes might I be making when taking a lateral flow test?

Common mistakes people may make when conducting a lateral flow test include:

  • failing to spot positives
  • not reading the instructions
  • mixing up the best way to carry out the test
  • not washing your hands before taking the test
  • not blowing your nose before the test
  • not reading your test result within the required waiting time period

When reading your results, any positive line within 30 minutes, even if it is faint, equals a positive result.

However, if a faint line appears after 30 minutes, then this can usually be ignored.

You should also follow the instructions for the test and avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes before you take it, blow your nose beforehand and remember to wash your hands

You will also need to follow the enclosed instructions as some tests are different from others.

If the test advises doing a throat and nose swab then you need to make sure you do both, but if it advises a nose swab only then only do this.

According to the NHS, before taking the test you should:

  • read the instructions in the test kit
  • wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitiser
  • lay out all the items in the test kit on a clean surface
  • if your test does not come with a pre-filled tube, fill the tube with the liquid provided and close the lid
  • place the tube in the tube holder
  • blow your nose
  • wash your hands again

When taking the swab, if your test requires a throat swab you will need to:

  • open your mouth wide and rub the swab over your tonsils (or where they would have been). Avoid the end of the swab touching your teeth, tongue and gums
  • using the same swab, wipe the inside your nose as set out in the test kit instructions

If your test requires a nose swab only:

  • use the swab to wipe the inside your nose as set out in the test kit instructions

When completing the test, you will need to:

  • put the end of the swab into the tube so it’s in the liquid
  • squeeze the liquid from the tube onto the test strip
  • check the waiting time in the instructions that came with your test kit
  • wait for the time shown in your test kit instructions
  • read your result

The NHS website said: “Do not leave it longer than the waiting time specified in the test kit instructions as this may affect the result.”

It is also important you report your result, whether it is positive, negative or void.

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