Coronavirus symptoms? Here’s when you should get a test

People, Health and Care
14:10, Monday, 21st September 2020

With pressure mounting on the Covid-19 testing facilities, NHS Test & Trace and Public Health England have urged people not to book a test unless they are suffering from at least one of the three main coronavirus symptoms.

It is vital that only people with symptoms are tested to help stop the spread of the virus.

This will enable frontline workers, and people who are genuinely in need, to access a test.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • High temperature
  • New, continuous cough
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

A recent survey at testing sites found a quarter of people turning up did not have symptoms.

If you don’t have coronavirus symptoms, and have not been advised to take a test by a doctor or a public health professional or by your local council, you should not book a test.

If you do have coronavirus symptoms you must isolate immediately for 10 days – don’t wait for a test result.

If you are identified as a contact of a positive case you must isolate for the full 14 days, but only get tested if you have symptoms.

You must not book a test:

  • If you have returned from abroad or are about to travel
  • If someone in your household has symptoms but you do not
  • Before you return to your workplace, school or college if you don’t have symptoms

If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will be advised to isolate for 14 days, but you should only get tested yourself if you get symptoms.

If you are returning from abroad or have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19, getting a negative test will not change the amount of time you must spend self-isolating.

People are also urged not to stockpile tests but to wait until they develop symptoms before booking a test.

To book a coronavirus test call 119 or go to the NHS website for details on how to book online.

Businesses and schools

Schools and employers are being urged to follow official guidance and help ease the pressure on NHS Test & Trace.

Public Health England is asking businesses not to ask employees to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test before allowing them back into the workforce.

Travel companies, in particular, have been told not to request negative tests before customers travel.

Anyone needing a certificate to prove they are Covid free must book a private test.

In schools, headteachers are asked not to advise entire classes or year groups to get tested, or to require a negative test before letting anyone back into the school.

Only pupils or teachers with symptoms should book a test.

More information on the current guidance for schools from Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace is available on the Government website.