Can you eat before a Covid test? Coronavirus test guidelines

Davina McCall: Drop in COVID-19 cases is 'very exciting'

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With many receiving routine Covid tests for work, and others having to check if they’ve been infected before heading abroad for one of the few exceptional circumstances, lateral flow testing is on the rise in Britain. There’s a number of guidelines that those going for the tests need to follow, and although they are rather simple, they are very important. From isolating before a test to whether or not you’re allowed to eat before a Covid test, here’s all you need to know…

What happens during a COVID-19 test?

Depending on which test you’re getting and whether or not you’re swabbing yourself, things could vary.

Regardless of whether or not you’re having the swab done by someone else or doing it yourself, you should be given instructions by the assistant who is guiding you.

The assistant, typically a nurse or someone working in the medical field, will talk you through the process, verify your details and ensure the swab is taken correctly.

When the swab is being done, samples will be taken from your throat, followed by your nose.

What can and can’t you do before taking a Covid test?

A lot of testing rules vary depending on the circumstance of your testing.

Some might need to isolate at home before taking the test at a drive-in centre, whereas others will be able to complete an at-home test kit.

Those heading out for a booked test are asked to turn up to their slot between 10 and 20 minutes beforehand to ensure a smooth running of the testing process.

Wearing a face covering is crucial, as is practising social distancing.

Before going for your test, it’s recommended that eating is avoided for an hour or two prior to testing.

You should only drink water in that same time period, to avoid anything affecting your test results.

Many more people will be taking Covid tests after schools went back on March 8 for the first time in months.

Secondary pupils are being asked to take three tests in school before they will then be tested twice a week at home – with parents also asked to commit to lateral flow tests.


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SAGE scientist Professor Calum Semple says “we absolutely do expect cases to rise” as a result of schools reopening – but added the overall impact “is going to be less”.

He added: “That said, we have to temper that with caution. One in 10 of our hospital beds are occupied by people under the age of 50 who are at the back of the queue for vaccination and are otherwise healthy.

“And the fact that one in five intensive care beds was occupied by somebody under the age of 50, again who was previously relatively well.

“You might say that’s a small proportion – but if you are one of these people who are under the age of 50 – it is a big deal for you that you don’t catch Covid.”

When will the Covid test results come back?

Test results will be sent to you by either the NHS or whichever clinical team took the test.

Depending on the kind of test you went for, results are almost always returned within a matter of days, with the NHS now offering testing that comes back within an hour.

Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus – here

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