The tests currently available are rapid lateral flow tests, which can be done at home, and PCR tests, which are done in a lab, to determine whether you have COVID-19. There are also antibody tests to determine whether you have previously had COVID-19 and have immunity to the virus.
Patients in hospital with coronavirus symptoms are tested to find out if they have COVID-19. Everyone admitted to hospital will be tested with a PCR test, regardless of the reason for their admission. If you are not in hospital and would like to be tested, you must meet certain criteria.
The Government have issue guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested:
- Tests if you have symptoms (lateral flow tests) or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- Going into hospital
- Travelling abroad from England
- Testing in care homes
- Testing essential workers.
Who can be tested
The following groups of people can ask for a test through the NHS website:
- Anyone living in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age
- Anyone living in Scotland and Northern Ireland aged 5 and over who has symptoms of coronavirus.
The following groups of people can access priority testing through the NHS:
- Essential workers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
- Anyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over 5 years old who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with an essential worker
- Children under 5 years old in England and Wales who have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker (this test must be performed by a parent or guardian).
See the guidance on testing for essential workers and the list of essential workers. You can apply for a test online if you are an essential worker.