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The different types of Covid testing available to the public | Birmingham City Council

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

National lockdown: Stay at Home Check out our coronavirus updates and advice.

The different types of Covid testing available to the public

There are two types of test.

  • PCR Lab Tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
  • Lateral Flow (Results in 30 minutes)

Lateral Flow Testing (Rapid testing)

Birmingham is one of many cities introducing scaled up rapid testing (lateral flow testing) which means results are available within half an hour.

The lateral flow tests are used by people who don’t have symptoms (asymptomatic). These tests are trying to find people who may have no symptoms but are infectious.

This type of test is very good at identifying people who have the virus and are infectious on the day but are not as good as the PCR test at finding the virus in people who aren’t infectious yet.

PCR (Swab tests which go to the lab)

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are the tests you may be most familiar with. PCR tests are the ‘swab’ tests that have been offered since March, and these are be sent off to the lab in order to get your results. You receive your result in 2 to 5 working days by text or a phone call.

The PCR tests are better at finding very small amounts of the virus, especially early in infection, so these are used primarily in people who have symptoms.

Book a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus

Alternatively to book the free NHS test, telephone, 119.