Two types of test are currently being used to detect if someone has COVID-19:
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests
- Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests
PCR tests detect the RNA (ribonucleic acid, the genetic material) of a virus. PCR tests are the most reliable COVID-19 tests. It takes some time to get the results because they are usually processed in a laboratory.
LFD tests detect proteins in the coronavirus and work in a similar way to a pregnancy test. They are simple and quick to use. LFD tests are not as accurate as PCR tests and are mainly used in people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone who has a positive LFD test should have a PCR test to confirm the result within 48 hours.