When to Have a COVID-19 Test
Update from NHSE/I:
There is now very high demand for COVID-19 tests and it is vital we test people with symptoms to help stop the spread of the virus.
We all need to play our part to protect the NHS Test and Trace service for those who really need it.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must get a test. If you don’t have symptoms, don’t get a test. By following these simple rules, we can ensure people who need a test can get one.
Only get a test if:
- You have one or more coronavirus symptoms (high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste); or
- You have told to get tested a doctor, a public health professional or by your local council.
If you do not have symptoms, do not book a test because:
- you want to travel to another country;
- you have been abroad and are quarantining;
- your employer or school has asked you to; or
- you have been in close contact with someone who has one or more symptoms.
NHS Test and Trace do not provide certificates for travel purposes. You can pay for a private test.
A negative test result does not change the period of time that you will be required to self-isolate.
If someone in your household has symptoms, then they must get tested and the rest of your household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results.
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 for possible future use.
If you have symptoms and need to book a test, you can do this online or by ringing 119. Do not call 111, which is an urgent care service and cannot help with tests.
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 may be advised to isolate if you have been in contact with a confirmed case, but you should only get a test if you have symptoms.