Covid 19: Where to buy lateral flow tests, how much they cost and where to get them for free

Covid 19: Where to buy lateral flow tests, how much they cost and where to get them for free

Barnet has been found to be the London borough where Covid-19 cases are the most prevalent, according to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data, with numbers on the rise.

The north London borough had 93 cases in the week leading up to September 13 - a rise of 19 from the week before - and 23.3 cases on average per 100,000 residents. Greenwich had the second highest amount with 61 cases - a rise of 22 to bring it to 21.1 per 100,000.

The UKHSA is now releasing the data less frequently but is still closely monitoring Covid-19 rates across the UK.

The agency found Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Ealing, Harrow and Hillingdon were other boroughs to have seen a rise in numbers.

But what are lateral-flow tests and where are they available?

How can I get a lateral-flow test now?

People who are not eligible for lateral-flow tests can buy them at pharmacies and certain retailers. It’s possible to buy LFTs both online and in person.

What do I do after taking a lateral-flow test?

If you were eligible for a free lateral-flow test through the government, you can report your result online.

However, if you paid for your test, you cannot report your result through the government website.

If you test positive for Covid, the NHS advises that you “should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days after the day you took the test”.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 is advised to stay at home (PA Wire)
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 is advised to stay at home (PA Wire)

How much do lateral-flow tests cost?

Lateral-flow tests are much cheaper than PCRs.

High-street options include Boots with a single test for £2.50, £12 for a pack of five, or £17 for four, with an option to send results to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Elsewhere, Superdrug is selling Healgen for just £1.99. Both stores offer Flowflex multipacks for just under £10.

Government-listed provider Randox offers packs of three tests for £6 and packs of 10 tests for £17.

When did free Covid tests end?

Free lateral-flow tests were provided to the public until Friday, April 1 2022.

Ordering tests from the government website included answering questions on whether you had symptoms.

If answered no, a message stated that tests are “most needed” for those at higher risk.

When could free Covid tests come back for the wider population?

Free testing could be reinstated if a dangerous new variant arises, so the Government is storing lateral-flow tests as a pre-emptive measure.

Lateral-flow tests remained free in Wales until July 31 last year but now all must pay for the tests should they need unless they hit a certain criteria.

Health secretary, Steve Barclay (PA)
Health secretary, Steve Barclay (PA)

Who can still get free lateral-flow Covid tests?

Currently, most people in England can’t get a lateral-flow test for free, although certain groups are still eligible.

The groups of people who may be able to get LFTs for free include the following:

  • People who are eligible for Covid treatment

  • People in care homes, refuges, and prisons

  • People who are being admitted to hospital

  • People who work in the NHS or adult social care

You are eligible for free tests if you work in the NHS or adult social care and you’re:

  • NHS patient-facing staff

  • staff who deliver NHS services through an independent healthcare provider, and have direct contact with NHS patients

  • a social worker

  • a personal assistant

  • a Shared Lives carer

  • a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspector

Additionally, people can also get a free LFT if their GP or a health professional has asked them to get tested.

There are currently no plans to reintroduce free Covid testing for the general public by the Government, despite cases rising.