Testing for people with symptoms

If you have one or more of the following Covid-19 symptoms you must isolate and book a test immediately:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you have other symptoms and are in doubt, take a PCR test. You can book a PCR test online or by calling 119.

The online booking system will ask if you have symptoms. Click "No" if you don't have any of the classic symptoms but still require a PCR test.

You will then be asked a number of questions until you get to one that asks you why you want to book a test.

Click the option that says: "My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms."

You will then be able to book an appointment to get tested.

If you have symptoms that are not one of the three classic symptoms of Covid-19, you do not need to legally isolate unless the PCR test result is positive. However, you may wish to isolate at home as you usually would with any other illness.

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How to request a home testing kit

If you are unable to visit a test centre, you may be able to request a home test kit by calling 119 - you will need an email address to do this.

You can also ask for a courier to collect your test once you have done it. These kits are only for people with symptoms.

If your result is positive

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If your PCR test result is positive, you must isolate from the day your symptoms began and for the next 10 days. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result and the guidance for households with possible or confirmed Covid-19 infections.

From 16 August, those who have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will not have to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case. 

Anyone who has previously received a positive Covid-19 PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test, unless they develop any new symptoms of Covid-19.

This is because traces of the virus can still show up in a test when you are no longer infectious so may give you an inaccurate test result.

If your result is negative

A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. You do not usually need to self-isolate if you get a negative result. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result.

If members of your household test positive

If one or more people in your household test positive for Covid-19, you should take a PCR test at the earliest opportunity, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.

This is particularly important for children and young people in education settings as it will reduce the chance of the virus being spread in those settings.

You do not need to isolate while you wait for the result unless you develop one or more of the three classic Covid symptoms. If you become unwell with other symptoms, try to stay home.