We’ve become used to lateral flow tests over the past year. They’re a quick, easy and reliable way to find out if we could have Covid.
This has enabled us to continue socialising safely through the Omicron wave.
When testing positive, two lines appear on the lateral flow test.
But what should you do if a faint line appears? Or if a line shows after the 15 or 30 minute mark? Does this mean you’re positive? Or are you safe to carry on as if you’re negative?
We’re answering all your questions on lateral flow tests.
Lateral flows and the different result times
The Scottish Government advises taking a lateral flow test before every time you meet up with another household.
Depending on the type of lateral flows you have, you’ll have to wait between 15 and 30 minutes to read your test result.
If you have the blue and white NHS box, you should wait 30 minutes to read your result. You should not read the result after 30 minutes as this makes it void.
If your tests are the ACON Flowflex kind, you should wait 15 minutes before you read your result. The result can be read any time between 15-30 minutes. You should not read the result after 30 minutes.
For Orient Gene tests, you can read the result after 15 minutes. Instructions say not to leave the test to develop for longer than 20 minutes, as this will make the result void.
If a line appears next to the T before the time limit, you should assume you are positive, no matter how faint it is.
You should hold your test up to light at the 15 or 30 minute mark so you can be sure to see any faint lines that might have appeared during this time.
What if a line appears after 30 minutes?
But, what happens if you take a test, return a negative result, and when you look at it later on, there’s a faint line next to the T?
Does this mean the result is void, or should you assume you have Covid?
While this is very rare, this has happened. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have Covid.
It’s not entirely certain why this can occur, but it could be down to contamination from food or drink.
We’ve had a good run but it’s finally caught us. Positive LF for the 7 y/o this morning. pic.twitter.com/9wQ2erMMLS
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) January 24, 2022
As the instructions in the test kits say, you should not leave your test to develop for longer than 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the kit you have.
Reading the result after this time makes it void. If a faint line appears next to the T after the time frame, the result is likely void and you should not assume you have Covid.
If you’re concerned, you can complete another lateral flow test and check the new result within the allocated time frame.
And the Scottish Government advises anyone in doubt about their result to book a PCR test to confirm whether they’re positive or negative.
If you do so, you’ll have to self-isolate while awaiting the result of your PCR, in case you are positive.