Can I be tested for coronavirus?

Testing is a key pillar of the Government's strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. Find out if you are eligible.
swab test

Who is eligible for a test?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test.

There is another type of test (antibody test) that checks if you've already had the virus. This test is not widely available. Find out more

Clinicians will also be able to request the tests for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they think it’s appropriate.

The following people can now book tests to see if they currently have Coronavirus: 

  • anyone with symptoms (in England)
  • all essential workers including NHS and social care workers (and members of their household) with symptoms.

Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing. By day 6 after symptoms started it is too late for an antigen test.

You can ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

You can get 1 test for each person with symptoms.

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, you can ask for a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can only get a test for your child if they are aged 5 or over.

Coronavirus testing: Frequently asked questions

What the test involves

The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

You may be able to choose between drive through or walk through regional testing site or getting a home test kit. Your nearest regional testing site is at Twickenham Stadium.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

If you get a home test kit, you will need to do the test and return the kit in the next 48 hours. You will be told how to do this.

Apply for a test

If you have symptoms (you can apply on behalf of someone with symptoms):

Apply for a test

If you are an essential worker or live with an essential worker and have symptoms:

Apply for a test as an essential worker

If you are a care home:

Apply for tests as a care home

Coronavirus testing contact centre

If you have questions about a test you've booked or are having trouble booking a test, you can call the customer contact centre from 7am to 11pm.

  • Call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines)

Antibody test

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.

The government has announced the start of a major new national antibody testing programme, with plans to provide antibody tests to NHS and care staff in England from the end of May.

Clinicians will also be able to request the tests for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they think it’s appropriate.

Find out more

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