Testing for people with symptoms
If you have symptoms, you must self isolate and book a test, then stay at home until you get your result. You will take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is done at a local testing site.
Who should have a test
You should get a PCR test if you have at least one of these 3 coronavirus symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- you've lost your sense of smell or taste or it's changed
You can also use this service if:
- you've been in contact with someone who's tested positive
- you've been asked to get a test by a local council or contact tracers
- a GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
- you're taking part in a government pilot project
- you've been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result on a Rapid Lateral Flow Device
- you've received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
- you need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
You can find information on rapid lateral flow tests for twice weekly testing on the Testing for people without symptoms page.
Where to get a test
Tests are available seven days a week at local sites across the county. When you book an appointment, you will be advised what sites are open and where appointments are available that day. If you can't get to a testing centre, you can request a home testing kit from Gov.uk: Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus.
What the test involves
The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.
You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to do the swab for children aged 11 or under.
Once you have done the test, your test will be sent away to a laboratory to be checked. You will receive a text or email with your result when it's ready. Most people get their result the next day, but it may take up to three days.
Your test results
Find out about getting your test result and what your test result means at NHS: Coronavirus test results.
If you do not get your result by day 6, you can call 119.
What happens if you test positive
If you test positive, you must self-isolate immediately for 10 days. Contact tracing will be initiated through the NHS or local contact tracing team for close contacts.
You and your contacts may be able to claim a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment - see Apply for a test and trace support payment.
You can also get support if you need to self-isolate - see Get help if you're self-isolating.
What happens if you test negative
If you test negative, please continue to follow all national guidelines regarding social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing your hands regularly.
A negative test does not change the current rules we all need to follow. It's also important to remember that as with all tests, there are false negatives and the test may not pick up that you have the virus.
Ask a question
If this page doesn't answer your question, you can use our Covid-19: general enquiry form and we will get back to you with a response as soon as possible.