Public Health England has warned that coronavirus rapid testing kits are potentially inaccurate and said their use is “not advised”.
Kits were being developed by British companies to provide swift testing and potential results within 10 minutes, compared to the NHS process, which can take hours.
It was hoped the new rapid tests would be deployed across the country, but healthcare officials have warned that the kits do not provide reliable results.
The news comes as the number of deaths linked to coronavirus in the UK rose to 35, with 1,372 positive cases confirmed.
Public Health England (PHE) cautioned against using “rapid tests for use in community pharmacies or at home”.
In updated guidance, the health body said some of the products look for viruses, while others assess the body’s immune response.
But PHE warned: “There is little information on the accuracy of the tests, or on how a patient’s antibody response develops or changes during Covid-19 infection. It is not known whether either a positive or negative result is reliable.”
Manufacturers were understood to be developing kits that would allow quick testing in places like pharmacies. They can be turned to work on serum, plasma, or blood taken from a pricked finger.
But a statement from health officials said: “The current view by PHE is that use of these products is not advised.”
The NHS and PHE recently announced they were attempting a vast expansion of coronavirus testing to help the health service get through 10,000 tests daily.
Around 1,500 tests are being processed by labs every day. Most are turned around within 24 hours, according to the NHS. PHE had processed over 25,000 tests as of March 10.
It was hoped rapid testing kits could ease pressure on health services and allow swift determination of risk for members of the public, allowing them to take measures to seek help if needed.