NHS test and trace: how it works

The NHS test and trace service. For full details click here.

  • ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and also includes targeted asymptomatic testing of NHS and social care staff and care home residents
  • helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus

How to order a test

Please tell us about your symptoms as soon as possible and get a test to find out if you have coronavirus. Please tell us about your symptoms as soon as possible. The sooner you have a test, the sooner we can let you know if you and other members of your household must remain in self-isolation.

Members of the public can order a test through the NHS website.

If you are an essential worker or an employer, please visit:

If you don’t have access to the internet, you can order a test by phoning 119.

Our guidance on testing has more information on our testing programme.

We’ve made it as easy as possible for everyone who has symptoms to access a test quickly, and there are now many potential ways to be tested:

  • drive-through regional testing sites
  • mobile testing units
  • test kits delivered to your home
  • hospital-based testing for NHS patients and staff
  • dedicated testing centres in other care settings (for example, care homes)

When you order a test, you will get information on the options available to you.

We currently aim to provide results within 48 hours of taking a test, but some results may take longer.

You will get your results by text, email or phone – and the message will advise you about what to do next.

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