Skip to main content

Test, Trace, Protect – what you need to know

Updated 24 August 2022

Testing for COVID-19 has changed. These changes aim to ensure we can live alongside COVID-19 while still protecting the vulnerable.

Isolating if we have symptoms is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the onward spread of infection and break the chains of transmission, not just of Covid-19 but other respiratory infections too.

If you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate and book a LFD test.

Your support will help to keep Wales safe and reduce further transmission of the virus, which remains a very serious illness, especially for older people and those with existing risk factors.

The main COVID-19 symptoms are:

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

The questions and answers below aim to help you understand when you need to test and what to do.

FAQs

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, to keep people safe and reduce the risk of transmission, public health advice is to stay at home until you feel better and your temperature is normal. The legal requirement to self-isolate ended on 28 March 2022.

The main COVID-19 symptoms are:

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

PCR tests, previously in place for people with symptoms of COVID-19 and which were sent to the labs for confirmation, stopped being available to the general public from 31 March 2022. PCR testing is provided directly by Health Boards only for symptomatic health and social care staff (as they work with vulnerable people), some special education staff, care home residents and prisoners. It is also available for some patients undergoing certain treatments. If you need a PCR as a patient, you will be contacted directly with an appointment and information about where you need to attend for your test.

If you have symptoms and work in health and social care or special education provision, please contact your organisation for information on access to testing.

Free LFD home testing kits will no longer be available to the general public from 1 August 2022 following Welsh Government’s announcement on 29 July (opens in new tab).

However, to protect the vulnerable in our communities the following testing is still available under the Welsh Government’s Test Trace Protect service:

  • LFD and PCR testing for those eligible for COVID-19 treatments.
  • LFD testing for people visiting those eligible for COVID-19 treatments.
  • LFD testing for people visiting care homes.
  • PCR testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses for symptomatic care home residents and prisoners.
  • PCR and LFD testing in accordance with the patient testing framework and clinical judgement.
  • LFD testing for symptomatic health and social care staff.
  • LFD tests for regular asymptomatic testing for health and social care staff (this will be reviewed at lower prevalence).

Individuals requiring testing under the above categories will be contacted directly about how and when to access the appropriate test.

You will be contacted directly and offered a PCR test if required and given instruction on where to attend for a test and when.

Please do not arrive earlier than the scheduled time you have been given. This will help us keep people safe as it not possible to accommodate anyone waiting for their appointment on the day.

Anyone who has been told by a doctor or specialist that they are eligible for new COVID-19 treatments will be able to order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK (opens in new tab) or by calling 119, between the hours of 7am and 11pm (people with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119), even if they are not symptomatic.

Find out who is eligible here (opens in new tab)

People planning to visit someone eligible for new COVID-19 treatments will also be able to able to order free LFD tests.

More information on this is available and kept up-to-date on the Government website (opens in new tab)

Anyone who has been told by a doctor or specialist that they are eligible for new COVID-19 treatments will be able to order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.uk or by calling 119, between the hours of 7am and 11pm (people with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119), even if they are not symptomatic.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate and take the LFD test.

It is important that you report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (opens in new tab) online, by calling 119.

If you test positive for COVID-19, and are eligible, treatments need to start within five days of symptoms. Treatments will help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of you becoming unwell.

If a test shows you are positive, a healthcare professional may contact you. This could be by telephone or text message (SMS). They will arrange an appointment to decide whether treatment is suitable for you. 

Call 111(NHS 111 Wales) if you have symptoms and have not been contacted within 48 hours of reporting a positive LFD result.

Explain that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and may be eligible for antiviral treatment.

If appropriate, the call handler may offer a nurse assessment for your symptoms or may refer you to the National Antiviral Service (NAVS) for an appointment. This is to decide whether treatment may be suitable for you.

People aged over 50, or over 18 with a health condition may be eligible to participate in the UK antiviral treatment study called PANORAMIC

More information on this is available here (opens in new tab)

Contact tracing of positive cases will continue.

Contacts will receive digital communications (email or text or some may still get a call) with advice on what to do as a contact to stay vigilant for symptoms and advice to follow guidance:

  • pay close attention to the main symptoms of COVID-19. If any of these symptoms develop, they should order a LFD test. They are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people while they are waiting for their test result
  • minimise contact with the person who has COVID-19
  • work from home if able to do so
  • avoid contact with anyone they know who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell (opens in new tab) if they are infected with COVID-19, especially those with a severely weakened immune system (opens in new tab)
  • limit close contact with other people outside their household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • wear a well-fitting face covering (opens in new tab) made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where they are in close contact with other people
  • wash their hands regularly and cover coughs and sneezes

Contacts should follow this advice for 10 days after being in contact with the person who tested positive.

Different rules may apply if you work in health or social care, please contact your line manager in your organisation to discuss.

There are a number of other data sources, which can tell us how the pandemic is evolving in Wales. Data from the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 infection survey is published twice a week and estimates the percentage of population in Wales that would test positive. This survey is based on a random sample of the population and isn’t affected by changes in testing so it’s very helpful to compare with the Public Health Wales data. In the past, ONS and Public Health Wales data have tended to follow similar patterns. Other indicators of more serious illness, like COVID-19 hospitalisation or mortality data, are more lagged but they also help shed light on any changes in trends. Additionally some patients coming into hospital (or staying in hospital), those eligible for antiviral treatments and health and social care staff, will still receive PCR tests which will be reported in the labs and can track variants.

There are also new innovative methods like monitoring levels of COVID-19 in wastewater, which provides us with another way of understanding changes. A summary of the latest wastewater analysis is published in the weekly COVID-19 situational report.

Contact tracing remains active in the app but the venue check-in feature was deactivated on 25 February 2022.

Alternative format instructions, such as braille, audio and large print, are available online for testing at home. These can be accessed or downloaded from:

LFD (Lateral Flow Device) tests (opens in new tab)

This includes the following formats: plain text, large print, HTML and Easy Read format.

PCR tests (opens in new tab) and PCR test kit instuctions (opens in new tab)

This includes the following formats: plain text, audio (mp4), digital braille, large print, HTML and Easy Read format.

If someone  requires alternative formats such as braille, audio (CD) or large print instructions but cannot access them online, these can be provided by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which will send to the customer’s address for free.

You can then request alternative format instruction from the RNIB website COVID-19 test kit instructions in alternative formats - RNIB - See differently (opens in new tab) or by calling RNIB on 0303 123 9999 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm).

RNIB can also provide braille, audio (CD) and large print instructions in Welsh.

Yes, please be on the alert for hoax, calls, texts or emails.

You will never be asked:

  • For bank, PIN or payment details as there is no cost to being part of the testing or tracing programme.
  • For personal information about other accounts such as social media accounts.
  • To call any premium numbers such as those beginning with 09 and 087.
  • To set up a password or PIN number over the phone

You need to download the app by clicking here (opens in new tab)

Lines are open 7am to 11pm however if you require assistance taking an at home LFD coronavirus test, please call before 10pm to allow for processing.

This service is available to anyone who requires assistance with home testing. It may be of particular benefit to blind or partially sighted customers, or those who require visual assistance, but everyone is eligible.

Experience with LFDs has found that even with support it can be difficult for partially sighted people to deposit the precise number of sample drops into the test cassette. For that reason, people with the most serious sight impairments may find it preferable to seek assistance from a relative or friend.

Live video assistance can be used to support customers throughout the end-to-end home testing process, including:

  • Helping the customer to place an order for a test kit online, or ordering on their behalf
  • Helping the customer to register their test kit online, or registering on their behalf (including reading the barcodes for them)
  • Helping the customer to locate their nearest priority post box, or to arrange a courier collection
  • Helping the customer identify kit components (e.g. help them locate the swab, the security seal, the absorbent pad, etc)
  • Talking the customer through the instructions step-by-step as they administer their test (please note, Call handlers can only provide non-clinical guidance)
  • Talking the customer through the instructions to assemble the returns box

Live Video Assistance (LVA), powered by the free Be My Eyes app, connects an individual to a call handler via a live video call. Once connected, the call handler can see what is in front of the caller’s smartphone camera, enabling them to provide the individual with visual assistance as they complete a task such as at-home coronavirus testing.

LVA has been trialled by NHS Test and Trace in partnership with four leading sight loss charities (RNIB, Macular Society, Visionary, and Thomas Pocklington Trust), and has evidenced that it is an effective service which increases the accessibility of home testing, particularly for those with a visual impairment. The call handler is specially trained and will keep personal information confidential.

Be My Eyes and NHS Test and Trace are offering this free service to any customer who feels they would benefit from visual assistance as they complete a home test.

Share: