With borders beginning to open and global tourism aiming to adjust to the ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19, the Cayman Islands has expanded its COVID-19 detection efforts to include lateral flow testing (LFT).
Having a strong testing program aims to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 and works to reduce outbreaks using early detection. Those who test positive can isolate sooner and limit the amount of people they come into contact with to stop the progression of infection.
Anyone two years of age and older can use a lateral flow test whether you’re required by your employer, as part of national policy, planning to meet in large groups at an event, or if you’re intending to travel.
Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know about the lateral flow test and how to conduct it yourself.
What Is a Lateral Flow Test (LFT)?
A lateral flow test is used to detect the COVID-19 antigen and is highly effective if you have a high virus load, even if you aren’t displaying any symptoms.
As a self-administered test, LFTs are affordable and you get your samples by swabbing your nose and throat. Unlike a PCR test your results don’t have to go to a laboratory for processing which means you can get your lateral flow result in 15 to 30 minutes.
National Policy on Lateral Flow Tests
The Cayman Islands Government has rolled out guidelines on the use of LFTs at home and for organisations in different sectors like tourism, education, etc. The policies outline who the test is for and the standards for implementing it at home and in the workplace. It also includes guidelines on its deployment in the public sector and other public settings.
The guidelines also list the specific lateral flow kit brands authorised by the Health Services Authority, in line with WHO and the UK Health Security Agency’s recommendations.
You can read the full details of the current National Policy here.
How To Take A Lateral Flow Test
If you’re administering a lateral flow test yourself for the first time, here’s a guide on how to do it safely and accurately.
Before Taking Your Test:
- Read the instruction manual: Test kit instructions can differ depending on the brand, so make sure to read them thoroughly before you get started.
- Check your test kit contents: Contents are listed in the instruction manual so check you have everything you need. If any of your kit is damaged or missing, do not use it. Instead, contact the supplier details in the instruction booklet or the place you purchased your kit for a replacement.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke 30 minutes prior to completing the test.
- Prepare your test area: You’ll need a clean, dry, and flat surface to lay out your kit. Sanitise the surface thoroughly and make sure it’s completely dry before you start taking your sample.
- Sanitise your hands: You don’t want to contaminate your sample so make sure you thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before handling the kit. If you don’t have any available, sanitiser also works.
Step 1: Set Up Your Test
- Remove the contents and place them on the sanitised flat surface.
- Take out the cassette from the sealed bag. Once opened, you need to take the test within 30 minutes.
- If your kit doesn’t come with a pre-filled buffer extraction tube, fill the tube with the provided fluid. Be sure not to spill any fluid on your skin or in your eyes. Seek medical attention if this happens.
- Place the tube on the tube holder.
Step 2: Take Your Sample
Note: Some kits will only require a nasal sample while others may require a throat and nasal swab. If your kit only requires a nasal sample, you can skip step two (2).
- Take the swab out of the bag. Avoid touching the fabric tip.
- Insert the swab into the back of the throat and rub it over the back of your throat. Make sure the tip doesn’t come in contact with your teeth, gums, and tongue.
- Next, insert the swab into your nostril gently until you meet a little resistance. If you feel any pain, don’t insert the swab any further.
- Rotate the swab 5 times, ensuring that you touch the inside walls of your nostril.
Step 3: Process Your Sample
- Put the swab into the extraction buffer tube with the fabric end immersed into the liquid.
- Gently press the tip into the tube’s bottom surface while rotating it around for 30 seconds.
- Squeeze the tube’s bottom so you can pinch the fabric end of the swab. This will transfer your sample into the liquid.
- Attach the dropper cover to the tube. Allow it to mix thoroughly by swirling the tube around gently.
- With the test cassette on the flat surface, squeeze out 4 drops into the specimen well (usually marked with an S).
- Wait for 15 to 30 minutes before reading your results.
Doing The Test For Another Person
Adults should be responsible for performing a lateral flow test for children below the age of 12 and you can do the test for another person if they are not confident doing it themselves.
Here are a few guidelines you need to remember:
- When taking a nasal sample, insert the swab gently. Slowly push inside until you feel some resistance and ask the person to let you know if it feels painful or too uncomfortable.
- Make sure to sanitise your child’s hands, even if they aren’t performing the test to make sure they don’t contaminate the sample whilst you’re performing the test.
- If they are anxious or nervous, reassure them before taking the test and if available do one yourself first to show them the process.
For more guidance on lateral flow testing for parents, visit here.
After Your Lateral Flow Test:
- Dispose of your test kit properly.
- Don’t read your results after 40 minutes as this will no longer be an accurate reading.
- Avoid waiting between taking your sample and adding it to the cassette window. Test your nasal/throat swab immediately after getting your sample.
- Sanitise your hands after using the kit.
Reading And Interpreting Your Results
- A positive result will yield two lines. One line will be on the control line (C) and the other should be at the test line (T).
- Faint lines are still to be interpreted as a positive result.
- A negative result will only have one line located at the control line (C).
- There should be no line, even a faint one, at the test line (T) area.
A test can be considered void due to either of the following:
- No lines appear.
- One line at the test area (T) but none at the control line (C) area.
In the case of positive results you should immediately report it to the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority here.
Lateral flow tests are designed to make the Cayman Islands a safe place to live and travel so it’s important to perform them properly. For more information on lateral flow testing policy in the Cayman Islands, visit her.