Coronavirus testing – FAQs

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Not sure whether you should have a coronavirus test? The following frequently asked questions set out when you should have have a test and also when you should self-isolate.

I have symptoms that I think may be coronavirus what should I do?

If you have any coronavirus-like symptoms, even just one, you must isolate immediately for 10 days (don’t wait for a test or a test result before doing so) and then book a test. The test needs to be done in the first five days of having symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The main coronavirus symptoms are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Most people with the infection will have at least one of these.

Who shouldn’t have a test?

People who do not have symptoms should not have a test. You will also hear this referred to as being asymptomatic. Remember: If you take a test and you don’t need one you are taking it away from someone who might need it.

Can I have a test under any other circumstances?

Sometimes you may be asked to have a test. You may be asked to have a test before you go into hospital, if your local council asks you to have one or you are taking part in a government pilot.

Can I order a test to keep just in case?

No. You should not stockpile tests for future use.

I’ve had a test. How long will it take for me to get my results?

Most people will get their results in 48 hours.

My test result is negative, can I stop self-isolating?

A negative test result does not always mean you can end isolation early. This will depend on whether you were told to self-isolate by the NHS test-and-trace service.

Read “Negative test result” on the NHS website.

Someone I live with/someone in my support bubble has tested positive or has symptoms, should I have a test?

Only if you have symptoms. However, you do need to self-isolate with them for 14 days whilst they wait for results and you must complete the full period of self-isolation.

I have been in contact with someone who has tested positive what should I do?

If you are identified as a contact of a positive case you must isolate for the full 14 days. Only get a test if you develop symptoms. If you have a test and it is negative you should still complete the full 14-day isolation.

A pupil at my child’s school has tested positive, should my child now get tested?

They should only get a test if they develop symptoms. You can find full NHS guidance on coronavirus on this NHS page

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