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Pupils: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL13818, tabled on 2 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of impact of false positive results from a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test on the number of children who will not be permitted to attend school.

Answered on

16 March 2021

The department has confidence in the value and accuracy of lateral flow tests. The tests are highly specific, with low chances of false positives.

More than 130 types of lateral flow devices (LFDs) have been assessed and over 20,000 evaluations completed. Results indicate that LFDs are effective at detecting COVID-19 in an individual and registering an appropriate positive result, including for the current variants.

The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have been tested. LFD tests are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for home use.

The Government has temporarily removed confirmatory PCR testing for Lateral Flow Tests taken at test sites, such as those situated in some workplaces, universities, secondary schools and colleges. This follows advice from Public Health England that, when COVID-19 prevalence rates are high, the performance of lateral flow devices and PCRs are broadly comparable when used at test sites, significantly reducing the need for routine confirmatory testing. In line with clinical advice, confirmatory PCR testing will remain in place, for pupils, students, and staff for whom testing is done at home to reduce the risk of false positives.