Around 1 in 3 of those infected with Covid-19 are thought to be asymptomatic, so early identification and isolation will be instrumental in minimising the spread. New community testing centres have been opening up across the UK to help identify individuals who are not showing symptoms of Covid-19 but may be infected and passing on the virus to others without knowing.

This community testing uses a lateral flow test which can be processed at the centre where the test is taken rather than being sent away for analysis. This means the result is available far more quickly, with results typically being returned in 30 – 60 minutes.

What does it cost?

The tests are free to access.

Who is it for?

Any member of the public without Covid-19 symptoms can get tested. It is largely aimed at people who cannot stay home during lockdown due to work commitments (or other essential reasons). Examples include but are not limited to:

  • health or social care
  • education or childcare
  • essential shops, supermarkets or financial services
  • food production or processing
  • warehousing, packing or distribution
  • transport
  • essential public sector services including waste, bin collections or security
  • construction, utilities or communications
  • agency workers

Frequency of testing

Community testing will be most effective at slowing the spread of Covid-19 if people are tested repeatedly, every few days. The first test may be negative, even for those with  Covid-19, because the level of the virus in the body is very low and not picked up by the test. The level of the virus increases in the body so a test a few days later is more likely to detect it and return a positive result.

Could your company and employees benefit from this testing process?

If you have employees that must attend the workplace despite the continued lockdown, please share this information with them and encourage them to get tested on a regular basis.  

Booking appointments

Some clinics offer a drop-in service but others must be booked in advance. To find out more about your local service explore the details on the government website:

Find out if your area offers rapid lateral flow test sites – GOV.UK (

For Suffolk you can also follow this link to the Suffolk County Council:

COVID-19 testing in Suffolk if you don’t have symptoms | Suffolk County Council