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Testing FAQs

***From 16 August, fully-vaccinated people will no longer have to self-isolate if a contact tests positive for Covid.***

1. I have Covid-19 symptoms

a. How do I book a test?

If you have the main symptoms of COVID (fever, persistent cough and loss of smell or taste) you must isolate immediately and book a PCR test on the national booking portal or by calling 119. You must remain in isolation until you get your test result. People in your household and support bubbles also must also isolate until you get your test result but they do not need to book a test unless they develop symptoms.

If you have other symptoms such as headache, aches and pains, feeling very tired for no reason, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, sickness or diarrhoea you are advised to book a PCR test on the national booking portal or by calling 119. You and other people in your household and support bubbles do not need to isolate whilst you wait for your test result.  

b. My PCR test came back as positive

If your test comes back as positive, you and everybody in your household and support bubbles must isolate for ten days starting the day after the date when your symptoms first appeared.

If others in your household develop symptoms during the isolation period, they should book a PCR test on the national booking portal or by calling 119. If their result is positive they must start another ten day isolation period starting from the day after the date when their symptoms appeared. If their result is negative they must complete the original ten day isolation period.

Even if others in your household do not develop symptoms during the isolation period, they should book a PCR test on the national booking portal or by calling 119. If their result is positive they must start another ten day isolation period starting from the day after the date the test was taken. If their result is negative they must complete the original ten day isolation period.

 

2. I don’t have Covid-19 symptoms

a. How do I book a test?

You should get tested regularly, and at least twice a week, by booking a lateral flow test (rapid test) at one of our community testing sites, or by ordering testing kits to use at home. Your results will be sent to you via email or text.

More information can be found on our Testing for people without symptoms webpage.

b. My lateral flow test came back as positive, what do I do now?

You must isolate immediately. You should take a confirmatory PCR test within two days to confirm the result. You can do this on the national booking portal or by calling 119.

c. My confirmatory PCR test has come back as positive

If your confirmatory PCR test comes back as positive, you must isolate for ten days starting the day after the date your lateral flow test was taken. Others in your household should also take a PCR test.

d. I didn’t take a confirmatory PCR test or I didn’t take one within two days

If you did not take a confirmatory PCR test, or took it more than two days after the lateral flow test then you should isolate for ten days starting the day after the date your lateral flow test was taken.

e. My lateral flow test was positive, but my confirmatory PCR test was negative. Can I stop self-isolating?

If your confirmatory PCR test comes back as negative then you can be released from isolation and should continue to follow the rules and precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

General

I have been vaccinated and received a notification from the app to self-isolate what should I do?

From 16 August those who are fully vaccinated or under 18 years of age and identified as a contact will not need to self-isolate; including if they have received a notification from the app. Instead, they will be advised to get a PCR test. The app is being updated to reflect this and sign-post people to testing.

For users who have not been fully vaccinated yet, we recommend they continue to follow the app’s advice to self-isolate as they are at risk of having and spreading the virus.

As we move away from legal restrictions to taking more personal responsibility, the app is perfectly placed to help users make informed decisions.

We encourage people to keep using the NHS COVID-19 app after they’ve received their vaccination.

What is meant by ‘fully vaccinated’?

Individuals are fully vaccinated when they are two weeks post-completion of a full course of an authorised vaccine administered in the UK. This is to allow for an antibody response to develop. You need both doses of a two-dose vaccine for maximum protection against COVID-19. You must have been fully vaccinated at the time of the contact with the positive case.

Is the PCR test a legal requirement?

No, it will not be a legal requirement, but close contacts of confirmed cases will be strongly encouraged to take a PCR test to help identify positive cases and prevent risk to other people.

What happens if my PCR test comes back positive?

If your PCR test result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days  to avoid spreading the infection to other people. This will continue to be a legal requirement. Those you live with – and any close contacts outside your household – will either be required to self-isolate or advised to get a PCR test, depending on their age and vaccination status.

Test and Trace Support Payment

You might be able to get a payment of £500 if either:

  • you have been told to self-isolate because of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you cannot work from home
  • you’re the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate and you need to take time off to look after them

More information can be found on the Government’s NHS Test and Trace Support Payment webpage. Eligibility criteria will apply.

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