Do you have Covid symptoms? Lateral flow tests will give you a ‘false’ reading – doctor

Omicron variant 'will dominate Delta before Christmas' says expert

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Much attention is being focussed on the symptoms of coronavirus amid the spread of the Omicron variant. People displaying a “new onset cough, high fever and loss of sense of taste or smell should get a PCR test”, urged Doctor Nighat on ITV’s This Morning. However, a common mistake symptomatic people make is getting a lateral flow test, she said. 

Doctor Nighat explained: “If you have no symptoms – one in three of us walk around with no symptoms – we should be doing lateral flows twice weekly.”

However, as the doc noted, if you have symptoms and do a lateral flow you will get a “false reading”.

She said: “If you have symptoms and say: ‘Look I’ve got symptoms, I will do a lateral flow at home’ – that will give you a false reading.”

A PCR test, which is sent off to a lab, will give you a “far more accurate reading”, the doc added.

This misunderstanding could have catastrophic consequences as many people could spread the virus without knowing it.

How the two main tests work

Rapid tests help to check if someone has COVID-19. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

About one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others.

Research shows rapid tests are a reliable test for COVID-19. They give a quick result and do not need to be sent to a lab.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need a different test called a PCR test.

The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

According to the Government’s website, you can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you.

“Parents or guardians have to swab test children aged 11 or under,” it states.

Meanwhile, research suggests many coronavirus cases are being missed because people are not suitably clued up about the range of symptoms.

“Our research shows there’s more to COVID than the three classic symptoms, but many people remain unaware of all the symptoms we should be looking out for,” said the researchers behind the ZOE COVID Study app, which has been monitoring the impact of the virus.

They continue: “This leaves people at risk of wrongly believing they have a cold, when in fact they could have Covid.”

The study team made a salient point: “In countries where there is limited or no testing available, symptom recognition is of major importance.”

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