Thu. Dec 1st, 2022


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Everything you need to know about taking a coronavirus test

3 min read

Coronavirus testing has been vital to identifying hotspots, putting in place lockdown restrictions controlling the spread of the killer bug.

Testing has been part of the UK’s 'five pillar' strategy for Covid-19 since March, with the Government hitting 100,000 daily tests a day in May.

There has been some controversy over the government’s numbers but it is accepted that testing is an essential part of controlling the virus.

The test itself involves a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, either administered yourself or by someone else.

A long cotton bud is inserted in you mouth to the back of the throat, kept there for several seconds before being inserted up your nose.

But not everybody is entitled to a free test – it all depends on your circumstances.

So who can get a coronavirus test and how long does it take to get a result?

Since May everyone over the age of five in the UK with symptoms can be tested for coronavirus.

Symptoms usually include a dry persistent cough, a fever or a chance in your taste and/or smell.

You can also get a free test if you have been asked by a local council or if you’re taking part in a pilot project.

If someone you live with develops symptoms you can also apply for a test for them.

Prior to May 18, only essential workers and the over 65s were entitled to a test.

But in a bid to further understand the spread, the testing system was rolled out to the public.

Patients must book a test within five days of your symptoms developing in order for it to be effective.

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The ideal time is within three days of symptoms first showing.

In England there are several ways to get a test.

You can go to a drive-through centre, where someone administers the test for you – but to do this you must have a car.

If you are having the swab done at a drive-through service you need to all arrive in the same vehicle and sit next to a window.

You can also request an at-home test which has the tools delivered to your address and you conduct the swab in the comfort of you own house.

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There are also satellite testing and mobile sites that move around the country offering tests depending on where has the most demand.

You will receive your test results by text message. The government says most people will receive a response within 48 hours but it can take up to five days.

While you wait for your results you (and anyone you live with) must continue to self-isolate.

You cannot get a free test unless you have symptoms, according to the Government website.

If you’ve had close contact with a Covid-19 positive person, you must isolate for 14 days and only get a government test if you display symptoms.

You can pay for a private test, but the government website has warned against this service.

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