You can get a throat and nose swab test for whether you currently have coronavirus. This is part of the governments' 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.
Who can get a test
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test. Coronavirus symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You can get a test for someone you live with if they have these symptoms. Do not get tests for people you live with who do not have these symptoms.
If you’re asked to get a test
You can also get a test if:
- you live in England and have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
- your local council asks you to get a test
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project
Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.
If you meet the criteria, you can select a regional testing site drive-through appointment or home test cut.
The employer referral portal allows employers to refer essential workers who are self-isolating either because they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms, for testing.
For most employees, only symptomatic people in the household can be tested. If the employee works in social care, however, the employee can be tested whether symptomatic or asymptomatic.
It is a secure portal for employers to use to upload the full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers.
If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.
In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- organisation name
- nature of the organisation’s business
- names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will load essential worker contact details
Once employer details have been verified, 2 login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.
Testing for care homes
All eligible care homes who need them will have received tests regardless of symptoms, with kits being delivered across the country.
As well as testing kits that have been sent to homes directly, tens of thousands of care home workers and residents have also been tested by Public Health England or at drive-through testing sites and mobile testing units. This is in addition to care home workers receiving test kits to their own homes through the separate employer and employee portal.
Antibody tests are used to detect antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if you have previously had the virus. The test works by taking a blood sample and testing for the presence of antibodies to see if you have developed an immune response to the virus.
Antibody tests differ to virus swab (PCR) tests, which test to see if you currently have the virus. There is no strong evidence yet to suggest that those who have had the virus develop long-lasting immunity which would prevent them from getting the virus again.
NHS and care home staff who would like to be tested are currently being prioritised, and these tests can be requested through clinicians. Clinicians will also be able to request the tests for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they think it’s appropriate.