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COVID-19 - Symptom-free testing for all residents

All residents in Walsall can now access free, twice-weekly symptom-free COVID-19 testing. The offer is part of a national scheme announced by the government

Symptom-free tests, or rapid lateral flow tests, help to identify cases of COVID-19 we would not otherwise find. With 1 in 3 people who test positive for COVID-19 showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, symptom-free testing enables us to find these cases and prevent the spread of infection. 

The tests are easy to use and can provide results in 30 minutes, so those who test positive can self-isolate immediately and avoid passing the virus on to others. 

People with symptoms should self-isolate and book an NHS PCR test online or by calling 119. You should not attempt a symptom-free test. 

The importance of regular symptom-free COVID-19 testing and reporting results to the NHS

A message from Walsall Director of Public Health Stephen Gunther. 

Image: Click to watch the video of Walsall Director of Public Health Stephen Gunther

Further information

Information and a list of FAQs about symptom-free testing for all residents in Walsall is available below. 

How to access symptom-free testing

There are a number of ways for residents to access symptom-free twice-weekly rapid testing. 

Pharmacy collect

Participating pharmacies across Walsall are signed up to offer ‘pharmacy collect’. You can pick up two free kits to use at home. You will need a code to collect your kit, this can be obtained from gov.uk/get-collect-code or by calling 119. Alternatively anonymous collection will be available from all participating pharmacies. 

NHS England’s site finder allows you to search pharmacies near you that offer pharmacy collect.

Community testing

A community symptom-free testing site where you can take a supervised test using a lateral flow test is available at Saddlers Centre, 1 Park Street, Walsall, WS1 1YS (Monday to Sunday: 7am to 3.30pm). Residents can also pick up a box of tests to use at home. 

The testing site is situated in the Manor Farm Community Hub in the Saddlers Centre. Free parking is available for those travelling by car for the first hour on the Saddlers Centre Car Park (accessible from Bridgeman Street and Bradford Street).

Mobile symptom-free testing bus

From August 2021, two mobile symptom-free COVID-19 testing centres will be operating on weekdays at locations across Walsall.  Anyone who lives or works in Walsall, has no COVID-19 symptoms and is in the area is being invited to hop on board, no appointment needed. 

The test will take about five to 10 minutes and you will get your results in about 30 minutes. If you don’t want to wait, you can ask a member of the testing team for a home test kit to take a test at home. See the mobile symptom-free testing bus page for timetables and location information. 

Order a delivery

Those people who can’t access tests using the above routes can order a box of tests online or by calling 119 to have test kits delivered to your home.

NHS Test & Trace sites

These sites are based across the borough and operate as symptomatic testing sites (for people with symptoms) in the morning and currently provide an afternoon collect option, where you can pick up a box of tests to use at home. Find an NHS lateral flow test site.  

Workplace testing

Some Walsall businesses are offering testing in the workplace. This includes testing sites, where you can take a supervised test, and ‘workplace collect’, where you can pick up a box of tests to use at home. If your employer offers workplace testing, this is still the best route for you to access rapid tests. Check with your employer or visit the symptom-free testing for businesses page

Education

Secondary and college students are already being given tests to use at home twice a week throughout term time and the holidays.

How to use a home test kit

Each home test kit comes with instructions telling you how to: 

  • register your test kit online 
  • take a swab sample for you or someone else  
  • read your results on the test device 
  • report your results to the NHS 

You will be provided with enough tests to take a test twice a week for a couple of weeks. 

Read Your step-by-step guide for COVID-19 self-testing 

Read Your step-by-step guide for COVID-19 self-testing: Easy read  

Watch this video to find out how to use a COVID-19 symptom-free test  

For help with testing book a test at one of Walsall’s community testing sites or community pharmacists

These rapid tests are for people without symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate and get an NHS PCR test

Recording results

Anyone who takes a symptom-free test at home is required to report every result whether this is positive, negative or void. This can be reported online or via telephone by calling 119 (free from mobiles and landlines). Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm. If you have attended a community or pharmacy site to take your test you do not have to report your result as this will be done by the technician at the testing site. 

If your test result is positive

If you did a symptom-free (rapid lateral flow) test and the result was positive: 

  • you and anyone you live with should self-isolate immediately 
  • get a free PCR test (a test that is sent to a lab) to confirm your result as soon as possible.

Continue to self-isolate until you get the result of the PCR test. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result. 

If you do not get your PCR test within two days of a positive rapid lateral flow test, you will need to self-isolate for 10 full days, even if you get a negative PCR result. 

Individuals that are required to self-isolate due to a positive test result and who meet the government’s eligibility criteria will be entitled to a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.

Find out more about what your symptom-free test results mean  

If your test result is negative

A negative test result is not a guarantee that you do not have COVID-19 and is only valid at time of testing. Symptom-free, rapid lateral flow testing identifies two out of three people who have COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms. This means that although you test negative, you could still have the virus and infect others. You can also be negative when you get the test and contract the virus after you are tested and before your next test.  

  • If you test negative you do not need to isolate.  
  • Continue to follow the current national restrictions and the guidelines of hands, face, space, keeping contact to a minimum. 
  • Get tested every three to four days at one of the community test centres or with a home test kit. 
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, book a test online via the NHS or by ringing 119. 

Find out more about current COVID-19 restrictions: what you can and cannot do 

Find out more about what your symptom-free test results mean.

If your test result is void

Following a void result on your symptom-free test, do another test as soon as possible. 

Find out more about what your symptom-free test results mean.

Symptom-free testing — FAQs 

What is ‘symptom-free’ (lateral flow) testing?

Symptom-free testing in Walsall uses lateral flow tests. These are rapid turnaround tests that are processed at local testing sites without the need for sending samples to a laboratory.  

Symptom-free testing helps to identify people who have the virus present in their bodies and are infectious on the day, but aren’t as good at finding the virus in people who aren’t infectious yet or who are in the early stages of infection, and can be described as a kind of ‘spot check’ test.

The tests are effective in identifying the cases who are infectious and are most likely to transmit the disease. The fast turnaround also allows positive people to isolate quickly, also reducing the spread of the virus.   

How reliable is symptom-free testing?

The lateral flow device (LFD) tests used in symptom-free testing have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 individuals not displaying symptoms. Crucially, when levels of virus are at their highest and people are most likely to pass on the disease, lateral flow tests can detect the vast majority of cases 

No test is perfect, but the speed and convenience of LFD tests supports detection of the virus in individuals who would not otherwise be tested. Each positive case identified can help prevent many additional people becoming infected over time. LFD tests are crucial in the fight against the virus.  

Extensive clinical evaluation has been carried out on LFD tests. Evaluations from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show these tests are accurate and sensitive enough to be used by individuals in the community.  

The ability to self-test at home makes rapid testing even more convenient, accessible and further increases the speed at which people can self-isolate.  

It is important to remember that these tests are an additional health protection measure in addition to face coverings, social distancing and following national guidelines.  

Is it compulsory to take a test?

No. However, people are strongly encouraged to test twice weekly. Regular testing will help to find cases that would otherwise go undetected and is a key step to getting the nation back to ‘normality’.

Will people be paid to take tests?

No.

What will a symptom-free test tell me?

If you get a positive result, it is likely that you were infectious at the time the test was taken. 

This type of test cannot detect very low levels of COVID-19 in a sample, so if you have only recently been infected, are in the incubation period, or if you have mostly recovered, the test may not give a positive result. 

How long does it take to do the test?

It takes less than 15 minutes to take the test. 

How long does it take to get the result?

The test produces a result within 30 minutes. 

I live in Walsall, but I work in another area, where can I access a test?

Symptom-free testing sites in the borough are open to anyone who lives or works in Walsall.

You may wish to attend a testing site in another area if it is closer to you.

I have COVID-19 symptoms, can I get tested?

Yes, but you need a different type of test.  

If you are displaying any COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay at home as you could already be infectious with COVID-19 and you will not be able to have a symptom-free test. You must book a test through the NHS website, the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119 instead. 

COVID-19 symptoms can include one or all of the following:  

  • a high temperature   
  • a new, continuous cough  
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.  

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 do not go to work, school, or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis. Only leave your home to get to your test if you need to (home-testing kits are available), observe strict social distancing advice and return home immediately afterwards.