In order to get tested for COVID-19, all you need to do is fill out an online form on gov.uk to get tested at a drive-through test site the very same day, or to order an at-home test kit. Here’s what you need to know…
This may not be news to some of you, but we have recently discovered just how easy it is to get tested for Coronavirus in this country.
What are my testing options?
If you suspect you may have the virus, you should get tested as soon as possible and stay at home. People you live with, or anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate until you get your result.
The government advice is: “You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms.”
The NHS website explains: “You can have a test (swab test) to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) now.
You can choose to take the test:
- at a test site near you today and get your result tomorrow
- with a home test kit”
The main symptoms of Coronavirus are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised a ‘huge expansion of testing’, saying that mass testing will start to be rolled out ‘immediately’. This could, he says, help cut quarantine time, lift lockdown restrictions further, and open up other parts of the economy.
How do I book a test and what does it involve?
Apply online at www.gov.uk and call the help desk on 119 (if you’re in Scotland, it’s 0300 303 2713) if you need assistance.
You’ll then have to fill out an online form which will take you through a series of questions. Once you’ve filled out your information, you’ll be asked whether you wish to drive to a test site or order an at-home testing kit. The site explains:
At a drive-through test site
- you need to book your test as soon as possible
- you or someone you live with must drive to the test site by car or small van
- site staff will tell you if an assistant does the swab test for you or if you do it yourself
- you can get a test kit for yourself and up to 3 other people you live with
- it is posted to your home and should arrive the day after you order it
- it’s important that you return your test as soon as possible after doing it
To book a drive-through slot, you will enter your postcode which will bring up a list local test sites, sorted by nearest to furthest. You’ll be shown time slots for the same day, with more test slots being made available at 8pm every evening for the next day.
The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat using a long cotton bud. It’s a little uncomfortable but not painful, and the process usually takes no longer than 10 minutes. It’s recommended that you allow around an hour for testing at drive-through sites, as you may have to wait.
How long do results take?
There is a network of couriers for all testing methods who collect samples and deliver them safely to one of the government’s testing laboratories, where scientists analyse them before results are sent back to you.
You’ll receive your test results by text or email. Most people get their results within 48 hours, but home test kits may take up to 72 hours.
There are three types of results you can get: negative; positive; and unclear (for which you’ll need to get another test).
What are antibody tests?
“There is another test, the antibody test to check if you’ve had coronavirus. This is not widely available yet,” explains the NHS website.
This is different to the tests mentioned above which are to check if you have the virus now. Antibody tests show if you’ve had the virus before.
“Free antibody testing is not widely available yet,” reads the NHS website. “It’s currently offered to NHS and care staff, as well as some hospital patients and care home residents.”
“Home antibody test kits are not currently recommended, as it has not been confirmed if they’re safe and reliable yet. You can pay for a test to be done at a private clinic if you want to.”