Following the prime minister Boris Johnson’s statement that lateral flow Covid-19 testing could be used to get venues reopened, the Government said new analysis of lateral flow tests shows them to be accurate and reliable, with extremely low false positive rates.

It said new analysis of community testing data shows lateral flow tests to have a specificity of at least 99.9%. The new findings on their specificity, which is a measure of how good the test is at detecting true negative cases, show that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.

The analysis of lateral flow tests used data from community testing, rapid testing in educational settings and asymptomatic test sites. Rapid testing in these locations uses the supervised testing model. Supervised testing is where the individual being tested swabs themselves under supervision of a trained operator, and the trained operator processes the test and reads the result.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “This new data further confirms what we know – these rapid tests are extremely accurate and are helping dramatically curb Covid cases. On Monday [8 March] alone, we conducted over 1.5m tests.

“Around one in three people who have coronavirus never show any symptoms but may still be infectious. This means they could be spreading the virus without realising it.

Rapid testing can help detect asymptomatic cases quickly, preventing the virus from entering schools, colleges or workplaces, and stopping outbreaks before they occur.”