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Public Health announces lateral flow testing

Public Health announces lateral flow testing

Sunday 28 March 2021

Public Health announces lateral flow testing

Public Health is launching a new type of home testing for Covid-19, starting with teachers, police officers and HSC staff.

Lateral flow testing will be used to boost Public Health’s surveillance programme, with focused “at home” testing used to help find asymptomatic covid cases in the community.

The initiative was announced during the latest Civil Contingencies Authority media briefing, which was held in person at Beau Sejour for the first time since the beginning of the second wave.

The Director of Public Health said the continued surveillance programme will benefit from lateral flow testing. The tests are similar to home pregnancy tests as they detect certain proteins in a person.

Concerns have been raised about their accuracy in the past, but Dr Nicola Brink said they’ve come a long way since they were first utilised.

“Lateral flow testing has improved dramatically over the last year,” she said.

media briefing 26Mar21 nicola brink

Pictured: “The tests will help us detect asymptomatic cases,” said Dr Brink.

The tests will be used for specific groups of people at first, including teachers, Bailiwick Law Enforcement and Health and Social Care staff. They can be administered at home and mean people don’t have to visit the East Arm of PEH testing facilities. “They can test themselves in the privacy of their own homes,” said Dr Brink.

Test sensitivity measures how often tests correctly return “true positives” and the latest lateral flow tests have “a sensitivity of just under 70%", meaning they will pick up a positive test most of the time, but not all of the time.

“False positives are extremely rare,” Dr Brink added. 


Pictured: Lateral flow tests give rapid results and have been used in both the UK and Guernsey for mass testing without the need for lab analysis.

The test isn’t suitable for everyone. Vaccinated people and symptomatic people will not be considered for lateral flow tests. 

“Symptomatic people need a full PCR test,” said Dr Brink. “Those who’ve been vaccinated have lower viral levels, and a more sensitive test is needed for these people.”

The lateral testing initiative will start to be rolled out next week.

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