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NHS Test and trace

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus

If you're contacted after testing positive for coronavirus

  • In England, you’ll be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • You'll be asked where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with.
  • This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you.

 

If you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus

Follow this advice if you're told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person – it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear
  • Do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at your home
  • Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for essential care try to avoid contact with anyone you live with as much as possible
  • People you live with do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms
  • People in your support bubble do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms

 

What is a support bubble?

  • If you live with someone at higher risk from coronavirus, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay in the same home together, read about how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with.

 

If you get symptoms of coronavirus

  • If you get any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste):
  • Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible
  • Anyone you live with must self-isolate until you’ve been tested and received your result
  • Anyone in your support bubble must self-isolate until you’ve been tested and received your result

 

What to do when you get your test result

If you test negative (the test did not find coronavirus):

  • Keep self-isolating for 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who has coronavirus – as you could get symptoms after being tested
  • Anyone you live with can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • Anyone in your support bubble can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • If you test positive (you have coronavirus):
  • Self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started – even if it means you're 
  • Self-isolating for longer than 14 days
  • Anyone you live with must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started
  • Anyone in your support bubble must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started

 

If you do not get symptoms of coronavirus

  • If you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus:
  • You can stop self-isolating after 14 days
  • You do not need to have a test
  • How NHS Test and Trace will contact you
  • You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.
  • Text messages will come from NHStracing. Calls will come from 0300 0135000.
  • Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.
  • You'll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website at https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.
  • If you cannot use the contact tracing website, they will call you.

 

Important the NHS Test and Trace service will not:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

 

Your coronavirus test result

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus

 

Getting your test result

You'll get a text or email when your result is ready.

If you went to a test site for your test, it can take up to 48 hours to get your result. It may take up to 72 hours for a home test.

There are 3 types of result you can get:

  • Negative
  • Positive
  • Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive

If you do not get your result, call the coronavirus testing contact centre on 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland). The contact centre is open from 7am to 11pm.

 

Stay at home

  • If you had a test because you had symptoms, you and anyone you live with must stay at home (self-isolate) until you get your result.
  • Anyone in your support bubble must also self-isolate until you get your result.

 

What is a support bubble?

 

Negative test result

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

You can stop self-isolating if your test is negative, as long as:

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

Information:

If you're a health or care worker, check with your employer before going back to work.

 

Positive test result

A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate.

  • If you had a test because you had symptoms, keep self-isolating for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you had a test but have not had symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when you had the test.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days from when you start self-isolating.

Read more about how long to self-isolate. (internal link to self isolation page)

Information:

 

Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive test result

An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result means it's not possible to say if you had coronavirus when the test was done.

Get another coronavirus test as soon as possible if this happens.

If you had a test because you had symptoms, you need to have another test within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

If you’re not able to have another test in time, you must self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

 

Urgent advice: if you need medical advice about your symptoms, go to:

Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.

Page last reviewed: 1 July 20