COVID-19 testing

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and get tested now, so we can control the virus and protect each other.

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

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

When to book a test

People with symptoms absolutely must come forward to get a test as this will help us stop the spread of the virus. However, as the NHS manages this period of high demand, it is especially important that if individuals do not have symptoms, and have not specifically been advised to take a test, they should not apply for a test because they could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it.

How to book a test

Anyone who has symptoms can book a test by visiting Visit nhs.uk/coronavirus or call NHS on 119 to get a test.

British Sign Language NHS Facebook page video explaining Test and Trace.

Essential workers

If you are an essential worker you can apply for a test using the GOV.UK testing for essential workers web pages..

Care homes

A digital portal for care homes is available to enable care homes to access coronavirus test kits. All registered care homes can now register for testing of the whole care home. This includes all residents and asymptomatic staff, including agency staff. This can be done through the Government's portal for care homes.

NHS COVID-19 App

Anyone who has symptoms can book a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or call NHS on 119 to get a test. From Thursday 24 September, a new NHS COVID-19 app will be launching. 

Where can I get tested?

There are two ways that you can get tested to confirm if you currently have coronavirus and both are provided free of charge. The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted).

1. Driving to a regional or mobile drive-through test site

There is a testing centre at Twickenham Stadium, when you book you will be given the option of a test centre based on nearest location to you and availability.

Watch a YouTube video explaining the process for drive-through testing.

2. Requesting a home-testing kit

Watch a YouTube tutorial supporting the instructions on your home-testing kit.

Can I get a home-testing kit?

If you are too unwell to travel to a test centre, you can request a home-testing kit when you register. Please bear in mind that availability of home-testing kits is currently limited, but more will become available.

When using a test site, there is no option to use public transport - you must drive or arrange for a household member to drive you. If this is not an option you can request a home-testing kit. If you have problems ordering the home-testing kit when registering for a test online at nhs.uk/coronavirus you can call NHS on 119 to arrange for one to be delivered.

Should I buy a home-testing kit online?

Some manufacturers are selling products containing COVID-19 testing kits that allow a swab or other type of sample to be taken at home or in the pharmacy setting, followed by a very rapid result within about ten minutes.

The current Government view is that use of products that give a very rapid result is not advised because there is little information on the accuracy of these tests, and no published evidence about the suitability of these tests for diagnosing COVID-19 infections.

For more information, see Government guidance on the rapid point of care tests.

Receiving your results

Whether you visit a testing site or use a home-testing kit, you will receive advice on what to do in order to obtain your test results. Results will be sent out by text within 48 hours from a testing site, and within 72 hours of collection of a home test.

When you receive your results, you should confirm them to your employer. We will not release data to employers on individual's test results or an individual's engagement with the test programme.

If you or your household member tested positive, you should all continue to follow the Government's stay at home guidance.

If you or your household member tested negative and you are fit and well enough to work, you should arrange your prompt return to work with your manager. Unless you have been tested as part of a Test and Trace alert, then you should complete your 14 day isolation.

NHS Test and Trace: Protecting each other if you test positive

NHS Test and Trace ensures that we can protect each other by helping to identify, contain and control the spread of the virus.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within two metres for more than 15 minutes.

What happens if I get alerted by NHS Test and Trace?

You may be alerted by NHS Test and Trace if you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus. What you need to do next is:

  • Isolate - You will need to isolate for 14 days after close contact.
  • Symptoms? Book a test - If you develop symptoms you will need to book a test and members of your household isolate for 14 days.
  • Positive result? - You begin new 10-day isolation and household completes their 14-day isolation.
  • Negative result? - Your household stops isolating immediately. You need to complete your 14-day isolation.

Updated: 14 October 2020