Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing and stay at home advice
This page contains guidance on who is eligible for COVID-19 tests, how to access tests and what to do if your result is positive.
Testing for COVID-19
COVID-19 testing is no longer recommended or available for most people.
If you develop symptoms, you should follow guidance for people with symptoms of respiratory infections including COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing is only recommended for some specific groups to protect those at highest risk and to support clinical care. Only those groups are eligible for free tests.
You should only get lateral flow tests if:
- you may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments
- you work in health or social care and you have COVID-19 symptoms
- you're a carer who provides close personal care for someone who is at higher risk if they contract COVID-19 and you have COVID-19 symptoms
If you are in a group who may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments and you have symptoms you should follow the guidance at:
Advice for those who test positive
If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, it's very likely that you have COVID-19 even if you do not have symptoms. This means you can pass on the infection.
If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, you should follow the advice below:
- stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days (or three days for children and young people under 18 years of age) after the day of the test, or from the day symptoms started (whichever was earlier)
- avoid contact with people you know to be at higher risk from COVID-19 for 10 days especially those with a weakened immune system
- do not visit others in a health or social care setting for 10 days
- continue to take precautions, such as regularly washing your hands and wearing a face mask, particularly in crowded indoor places
- let everyone in your household and have had close contact with know
Advice for close contacts
If you know that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive during the infectious period, you should avoid contact with people you know to be at higher risk of severe disease should they contract COVID-19.
You should not visit others in a hospital, care home or other health and care setting.
You should pay close attention to the general advice to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses.
Be aware of the symptoms of respiratory illness including COVID-19.
Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive coronavirus test result should continue to attend as normal.
How to get lateral flow tests
Free lateral flow tests are no longer available to order online.
Do not phone for a test. You will not be able to get one this way.
You may be able to get a free test from a pharmacy if you are;
- eligible for COVID-19 treatments
- you're a carer who provides close personal care for someone who is at higher risk if they contract COVID-19 and you have COVID-19 symptoms.
You should not collect tests from a pharmacy if you have symptoms.
You should ask someone who does not have symptoms to collect the lateral flow tests on your behalf.
If you work in health and social care
If you work in health and social care, you may still be able to get free lateral flow tests from your employer.
Reporting your lateral flow test results
You should report your test result within 24 hours of taking it.
It is important that you report every lateral flow test result, whether it is negative, positive or void, and receive a result confirmation notification.
If you are in a group who may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments, because you have one of the conditions that puts you at the very highest risk of illness should you catch COVID-19, you need to report the result if it is positive to be assessed for a COVID-19 treatment.
Further information on test results and how to report them is available at:
If the test result is void, this means that the test has not run correctly. If you are eligible, you should take another lateral flow test. Do not reuse anything from the first test.
Stay safe and prevent the spread of respiratory infection
There are steps everyone can take to help reduce the risk of catching or spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
Think about how you can protect yourself and your household and make safer choices.
Further information is available at: