Home Coronavirus: News and Advice When to get tested for COVID-19
Coronavirus Covid-19 test

When to get tested for COVID-19

by Nicola Appleton

There is now very high demand for coronavirus tests and it is vital that people who have symptoms are tested.

If you have covid symptoms, you must get a test.
If you don’t have symptoms, don’t get a test.

A recent survey at testing sites found a quarter of people turning up did not have symptoms. If you don’t have coronavirus symptoms, and have not been advised to take a test by a doctor or a public health professional or by your local council, you should not be booking a test. Healthcare professionals will be checking those for symptoms at testing sites.

If you have any coronavirus symptoms you must isolate immediately for 10 days (don’t wait for a test or a test result before doing so).

If you are identified as a contact of a positive case you must isolate for the full 14 days (even if for some reason you got a negative test during that period)

You should NOT get tested:

If you have returned from abroad or are about to travel, you are returning to the workplace, you have been in contact with a confirmed case or if another member of your household has symptoms. You may be advised to isolate if you have been in contact with a confirmed but you should only get a test if you have symptoms.

By following these simple rules, we can ensure people who need a test can get one.

When to get a test or not:
  • Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested a doctor or a public health professional or by your local council. The main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.
  • Do not use this service to get a test in order to travel to another country. Certificates for travel purposes are not provided. You can pay for a private test.
  • If your employer, school, or travel company has asked for evidence of a negative coronavirus test result, we are unable to provide this service. You should only get tested if you have symptoms.
  • If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then they must get tested and the rest of your household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If you or other members of the household don’t have symptoms, then you should not get a test – only people with symptoms should get tested. Most people who are tested in person get their results the next day. Full guidance on self-isolation is available on gov.uk.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus you should not get tested unless you have coronavirus symptoms. A negative test result does not change the period of time that you will be required to self-isolate.
  • If you have been abroad and are quarantining, you should not get tested unless you have coronavirus symptoms. A negative test result does not change the period of time that you will be required to quarantine.
  • Do not stockpile tests. If you develop symptoms in future you will be able to book a test. There is no need to order a test in case of future use.
  • If you have symptoms and need to book a test, you can do this online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by ringing 119.