Covid-19 testing sites across Northern Ireland have now closed, and there is new guidance in place for testing for the coronavirus.

The changes will deliver a more targeted approach to Test and Trace, focusing on protecting those at higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19.

As of last Friday, April 22, you no longer need to take a PCR test if you have Covid-19 symptoms; instead, you should take a lateral flow test.

These tests continue to be available free of charge from more than 500 community pharmacies across Northern Ireland, or by ordering online. To check if your eligible, see

If you do not have Covid-19 symptoms, you are no longer advised to take a lateral flow test. All visitors to higher-risk settings – such as care homes, hospitals and hospices – continue to be eligible for tests, and should take a lateral flow test before their visit.

Those providing close personal care to someone in their own home, who may be at greater risk from Covid-19, are also eligible for tests. You are also eligible if your GP/healthcare professional has asked you to take a test.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lourda Geoghegan, said: “While prevalence of the virus remains high, the risk of serious illness has been significantly reduced – largely due to the success of our vaccination programme and the use of new Covid-19 treatments.

“Transmission of Covid-19 in health and social care settings remains a risk, and adds to the demands and pressures on our workforce.

"Anyone visiting friends or family in these settings should continue to take a lateral flow test before their visit.”

The Public Health Agency’s Contact Tracing Service will also change to focus on providing public health advice to Covid-positive cases and members of their household.

Those who test positive should continue to report their result. Contact tracing in the wider community ceased on April 22.

Isolation guidance for household contacts is also changing. Daily lateral flow testing is no longer advised. Household contacts are asked to be alert to symptoms, and should only test if they develop symptoms.

This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated household contacts. There is no change at this time to the guidance on isolation for positive cases.

Concluding, Dr. Geoghegan said: “At this time, it is important that we focus contact tracing services to help protect those at higher risk.

“I urge everyone to find out if they are eligible to access lateral flow tests under the new arrangements by visiting NI Direct.

"We should continue to protect those at higher risk by testing if we have Covid-19 symptoms, and isolating if we receive a positive test result.”