Updated 28 June 2023

Changes to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing came into effect on 1 April 2023

For urgent infection control advice outside of IPC Team working hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), please contact UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) on 0151 434 4819.

These changes ensure testing continues to focus on those at highest risk, enables appropriate clinical treatment, and supports the management of outbreaks in high risk settings including health and social care.

Testing in England has been aligned with the management of other common respiratory infections thanks to the ongoing success of the vaccination programme, increased access to therapeutic treatments and high immunity amongst the population.

COVID-19 patient testing



Test required

Symptomatic patient

Lateral flow device (LFD)

Discharge to another care facility


Outbreak testing

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) to advise

Patients transferring from Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT) into Longmoor House

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

Day one admission testing for those patients identified with severe immunosuppression or higher risk of infection

No testing required

Staff must ensure all LFD results are accurately recorded on clinical record systems and ensure wards have sufficient supplies. Please see: LFDs and PCR patient testing and recording SOP for further guidance and ordering of LFD kits.

Testing and managing patients with COVID-19 and respiratory infections

Patients with respiratory symptoms will be tested using a LFD. If positive, isolate for a full period of five days and discontinue isolation on day six if apyrexial (fever free) and well. A step down testing regime will not be needed unless the patient is severely immunocompromised, which will require daily LFD, until negative, for a period of 14 days.

Severely immunocompromised patients testing positive will require medical review to determine whether they’re eligible for COVID-19 treatments. Those testing negative will only require isolation if they are pyrexial or unwell, until apyrexial or following medical review if unwell and will receive further LFD testing.

For further information: management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or respiratory infection SOP

Staff testing

Healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection (including COVID-19)

Staff who have symptoms of a respiratory infection are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test. Staff should follow public health guidance and stay at home until they no longer have a high temperature (if they had one), and no longer feel unwell.

Healthcare staff who have a positive LFD result

If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days after the day you took your test. On day six, you can return to work if you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) and no longer feel unwell.

Staff members who are contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19

Staff who are identified as a household, or overnight contact of someone who has had a positive COVID-19 test result, no longer need to undertake asymptomatic testing. While they are attending work, they must continue to comply rigorously with all relevant infection prevention and control precautions. If staff develop symptoms during these 10 days, they should stay at home until they no longer have a high temperature (if they had one) or until they no longer feel unwell.

For further information: guidance for staff returning to work following COVID positive or respiratory symptoms SOP

Ward based outbreaks

IPC Team will continue to manage outbreaks and provide guidance, including patient and staff testing. This will include asymptomatic testing using PCR, to support reduced ward closure which will be on completion of isolation of the last positive patient.  

Mask wearing

Staff are no longer mandated to wear masks. This has been replaced with local risk assessments and individual transmission based precautions. Masks will be reintroduced on ward settings during suspected or confirmed single cases or outbreaks of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections. For further information: guidance for the re-introduction of universal face masks SOP

Staff working in other trusts must comply with their local standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Visiting has returned to pre COVID arrangements and visitors do not routinely need to wear face masks, unless:

  • They are visiting a patient who is vulnerable and at higher risk of infection
  • They’ve been risk assessed or advised by the IPC Team (for example, if the patient has an infection risk)
  • It’s personal choice or need, including if they are vulnerable and at higher risk of severe infection.

Good hand hygiene should be encouraged prior to and after visits.

Visiting a ward that is in outbreak will be by exception and must be discussed with the IPC Team prior to taking place.

Further information/guidance

For further guidance: https://yourspace.merseycare.nhs.uk/IPC