How can I get a test for COVID-19?
If you have symptoms
It’s important to get tested if you’re feeling unwell, even if you’ve received a vaccination. You’ll need to self-isolate while you wait for your result. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
To book a test when you have symptoms, you should call 119 or book online.
You can also request a self-test kit to be carried out in the home. People with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119. You can ask for a test kit for yourself or anyone else you live with who is symptomatic.
When you have symptoms, you’ll take a PCR test. This is the most accurate test available and is analysed in a lab, so results can take up to 72 hours to come back.
More information on symptomatic PCR testing, including test centres and opening times, can be found here.
If you don’t have symptoms
It is important to get tested even when you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. This is because one in three people with coronavirus don’t show any symptoms, and could be spreading the virus unknowingly.
There are many ways to get tested when you don’t have symptoms.
Some people, such as health and care workers or school staff, may be provided with tests by their employer. Students may be provided tests by their school, college or university.
You can also get regular self-testing kits if you:
- Cannot work from home
- Are not already taking part in regular testing through your employer
These tests are available for delivery to your home or collection at certain testing sites.
When you don’t have symptoms, you’ll take an LFD (lateral flow device) test. These are fast, giving results in less than thirty minutes, and can be carried out by yourself at home. However they’re slightly less accurate than PCR tests – which is why anyone testing positive on an LFD test should immediately book a PCR test to confirm the result.
More information on asymptomatic LFD testing, including where to collect testing kits, can be found here.