SMART FAQs

Whole-community smart testing aims to protect those at highest risk and find asymptomatic cases (people without any symptoms).

This will help prevent and reduce transmission in the community. The more people we can test, the better we can fight the virus in our local area.

Stay Strong Halton. #LetsGetTested

It stands for Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing (Smart) which is the model we are using for community testing across Halton and the other areas of the Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral).
Smart ‘no symptoms’ Covid-19 community testing started mid-December in Halton with many people now getting regular tests to help keep their family, friends, customers and community as safe as possible. 1 in 3 people with Coronavirus don’t have any symptoms and are not aware that they are potentially spreading the virus. Smart testing is one of the most powerful tools we have in fighting the virus in our local area. This will continue for the foreseeable future as we work to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Yes, please do keep taking part in regular ‘no symptoms’ testing. The vaccination programme alone is not enough to beat Covid-19. Testing is one of the best tools that we have to help us to prevent future outbreaks and to reduce the risk of new variants emerging. Testing, vaccination and continuing to follow good hygiene and taking sensible precautions such as wearing face coverings in crowded places and when requested to will all help us to stay safe as society opens up.

Whilst vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill or being hospitalised due to Covid-19, it is still possible to be infected and potentially pass the virus on to other people even after being vaccinated. There will also always be a number of people who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons.

You won’t test positive for Covid-19 just because you have been vaccinated. The vaccination and tests work in different ways and don’t affect each other. So, if you test positive for Covid-19, you should self isolate immediately and get a PCR test to confirm the result – see below for more information – what happens if I test positive?

Tests are available to anyone who lives or works in Halton, who does not have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their age. Children under 18 will need parental consent.

Anyone who has previously received a positive test result for Covid-19 can choose to be re-tested within a 90 day period if they develop any new symptoms of Covid-19. In this case, you should use an NHS Covid-19 symptoms test centre, not one of the community ‘no symptoms’ centres. If the test is positive the normal self-isolation period will be required.

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The 'lateral flow' tests are point of care tests, so don’t need to be processed in a lab. If you take a test in a community test centre, results are ready very quickly – from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Most people will receive results by text or email soon after leaving the test centre.

Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

Many people are now using lateral flow tests at home and can see results within 30 minutes. Please upload results to the Government’s website even if it is negative - https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

We advise that you get tested regularly – twice a week, especially if you have to leave home to work, volunteer, care for a family member or friend or are wishing to attend activities and meet people.

1 in 3 people who have coronavirus don’t have any symptoms and may not be aware. Until we can get everyone vaccinated, getting tested is one of the best tools we have to fight the virus in our area.

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If you get a positive result to a symptom-free test (lateral flow), you MUST self-isolate for 10 days. We are asking people to follow up a positive lateral flow test with a PCR* test at an NHS symptoms test centre as this test is processed in a lab which will help us to detect any new variants and their spread.

Please note - If you take this follow up PCR test within two days of the lateral flow test and the result is negative, you no longer need to self-isolate and contact tracing will stop.

From Monday 16 August, if you are double jabbed* or aged under 18, you will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, you are advised to take a PCR test (at an NHS test centre) as soon as possible to check if you have the virus and for variants of concern – you are not required to self-isolate while you wait for the results of the PCR test.

*Double vaccinated adults who are close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate from 16 August, as long as they received their final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine in the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice.

Please also see our guide to self-isolation, help available, things to think about and important numbers for support and advice – www.halton.gov.uk/selfisolation.

*PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction – the tests used by the NHS at the COVID symptoms test centres.

No – you should not attend the Smart ‘no symptoms’ community test centres.

From Monday 16 August, if you are double jabbed* or aged under 18, you will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, you are advised to take a PCR test (at an NHS test centre) as soon as possible to check if you have the virus and for variants of concern – you are not required to self-isolate while you wait for the results of the PCR test.

*Double vaccinated adults who are close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate from 16 August, as long as they received their final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine in the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice.

No- you should follow the advice given by your travel provider and also refer to the Government advice in place at the time of travel - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel.

We do not provide a ‘test to release’ service.

A negative lateral flow test does not constitute a 'green pass' and with infection rates still high in Halton, we are still advising people to remain cautious.

For all the information about the current restrictions in Halton, please visit our website - https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/coronaadvice/

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Through this type of testing, we aim to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could spread the infection to others unknowingly. Identifying and supporting infectious people to isolate before they develop symptoms will help reduce spread.
Absolutely not. We are hoping that many people will recognise the benefits of getting a test to help reduce the spread of the virus in their communities. Through more testing we will learn more about how the virus is spreading in our community which will help us over time to reduce the impact of Covid-19 and help us to protect the vulnerable.

Lateral flow tests are rapid turnaround tests that are processed at the community testing sites without any need for sending samples to a laboratory. The staff at the testing sites have received special training to carry out the processing. Results are ready very quickly – from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. You will receive your results by text or email soon after you leave the test centre.

Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

You will be greeted by a member of staff and asked to register your information. You will then be asked to take a swab kit. You will then be given instructions on how to do the sample and take the swab sample which is a large cotton bud wiped at the back of your throat and up your nose and you will hand the swab back to a member of staff who processes the test there and then. You will then be asked to leave the test centre.

Shortly after, you will receive a text or e-mail with results – approximately 30 minutes to two hours afterwards. Staff will be on hand to answer questions at any point during this process. Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

The type of lateral flow test being used in Halton is called Innova – it is the same test that has been used in the successful Liverpool pilot. Results of the Innova evaluation published on 11th November 2020 show: • The specificity* of the test was recorded as 99.68% – the overall false positive rate was 0.32%, although this was lowered to 0.06% in a lab setting. • The sensitivity** is 58% for all PCR-positive people when performed by self-trained individuals and 73% when performed by health care workers but detects over 95% of individuals with high viral loads, and minimal difference between the ability of the test to pick up viral antigens in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals *Specificity means the proportion of people without the disease that have a negative test. **Sensitivity means the proportion of people with a disease that have a positive test.

There is financial support available to help those who need to self-isolate including the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment and a discretionary grant of £500 from Halton Borough Council.

 

For more information, including the eligibility criteria, please click below:

Please also see our guide to self-isolation here – www.halton.gov.uk/selfisolation.

Ideally, you will need to take your own smartphone as this will help to give your information quickly and easily whilst at the testing centre and to receive your results quickly. However, it is not essential as we will have alternative arrangements in place. You will be asked to give your name, contact details and date of birth.
Yes there is parking available at both the Grangeway Community Centre in Runcorn and the Ditton Community Centre in Widnes.
Yes both the Grangeway Community Centre and Ditton Community Centre are accessible for all.
The test centres are manned by Halton Borough Council staff who have been trained by the Army and colleagues from the Liverpool City pilot scheme.
Children can be tested, if they are under 11 their parent will need to take the swab for them. Any child or young person under the age of 18 will need to attend with their parent, so they can give consent.​

From 8 March 2021, visits to residents in care homes have been allowed on a limited basis - (including wearing of PPE, testing before visit and having five designated visitors).  With infection rates still high,, the Council has taken a decision to keep these precautions for our care homes.. We are working very closely with our local care providers to keep residents, staff and visitors staff and will review the arrangements regularly. Please see our website for information on the current rules - https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/coronaadvice/

Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing. NHS Covid-19 app users should input their results into the app.
No. All the Covid-19 tests that are part of the Smart ‘no symptom’ community testing scheme are free.

‘No symptoms’ Covid-19 testing remains free and accessible to anyone living or working within Halton.

If you are a business owner/manager and want to encourage staff to get tested, you can ask staff to use our community test facilities or ask them to collect home test kits at a wide range of locations across Halton – please see here for more information - https://www4.halton.gov.uk/Pages/health/smart.aspx.

Some larger businesses have been using the Government’s workplace testing scheme and may want to keep supported workplace testing in place. There is now a charge for this service – more information is available here - https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests.

Our public health team are also happy to support and advise further, please contact COVIDtesting@halton.gov.uk if you have any queries, feedback or you require further information.

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From 16 August, anyone in England who has had both their Covid vaccinations will no longer have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid. If you are a close contact, you will be advised to take a PCR test (see above for list of local test venues) to make sure you haven’t been infected. As long as this PCR test is negative, you will not be required to self-isolate.

Please note that anyone who tests positive or develops symptoms will still need to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.

People who have a second vaccine dose close to 16 August will have to wait two weeks after the vaccination before following the new rules. This is to allow the vaccination to take full effect.

From 16 August children will also no longer have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive. Instead they will be advised whether they need to be tested. However, any child who tests positive or develops symptoms will still have to self-isolate.


Yes. There are a number of places to get regular ‘no symptoms’ Covid-19 tests including:

  • Please look out for our community pop up test sites – details above – www.halton.gov.uk/smart
  • Community collect – collect home test kits from community test sites and pharmacies - please see here for all participating pharmacies and venues - https://find-covid-19-rapid-test-sites.maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/
  • Order home test kits to be delivered free of charge by Royal Mail to your home - https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests