SOMERSET residents are being reminded that they need to book a PCR test if they are showing symptoms of Covid-19 - or have tested positive using a lateral flow (rapid) test kit.

While the lateral flow tests are a useful screening tool, the PCR test is considered the ‘gold standard’.

The PCR test should be taken by anyone who is displaying Covid-19 symptoms such as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell.

And if you take a lateral flow test at home and gets a positive result, you should book a further PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test at a local testing site to confirm the result.

Trudi Grant, director of public health for Somerset County Council, said: “It is really important to understand the difference between the lateral flow tests and the PCR test.

“The lateral flow tests are only to be used by those displaying no symptoms. While they are a valuable guide, they should not be relied upon alone. Taking a PCR test will provide confirmation of the result.

“So, if you are displaying symptoms or have tested positive using a lateral flow test, please book a PCR test. As society starts to open up again, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control and this involves testing.”

You can book or request a PCR test online by clicking here or by calling 119.

The lateral flow tests for those displaying no symptoms are available via the Universal Testing Offer here. Remember to log any positive or negative result following a lateral flow test taken at home.

Ms Grant added: “The main form of defence against catching and spreading Covid-19 is still ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ – remember to wash your hands regularly, try not to touch your face unless you have clean hands, wear a face covering if you can and keep your distance from others.

"And, even if vaccinated, it’s still important you take part in twice-weekly LFT testing and ensure you take a PCR test if you are symptomatic.”

READ MORE: The 19 Somerset pharmacies where you can get your lateral flow test kit.