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Your questions answered on testing

Find answers to common questions about testing for coronavirus, including when and how to get a test, and what to do if you can't get one quickly.

From 11 January 2022, if you get a positive lateral flow test without any coronavirus symptoms you will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t need to take a PCR test.

You should book a PCR test as soon as possible if you have one or more of the main symptoms of coronavirus. These are:

  • a high temperature
  • a continuous new cough
  • loss of, or change to, your sense of taste or smell.

You are also advised to have a PCR test if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Please do a rapid lateral flow test at least twice a week, even if you have no symptoms. This is especially important before attending events or meeting anyone who is at higher risk from coronavirus.

You must book your test online at or call 119.

You need to stay at home, with the rest of your household, and self-isolate while you are waiting for your test.

No. A test might feel a bit uncomfortable for a few seconds, but it is quick and it is not painful. You need to take a swab on a long cotton bud from the back of your throat and up your nose.

Self-isolating means staying at home. You should not go to work, school, college or university, or go to shops or other public places. You must not use public transport or taxis. If you are self-isolating, you'll need to ask someone else to do your shopping and other errands for you.

You can be fined up to £10,000 if you fail to self-isolate.

If you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone testing positive for coronavirus, you should self-isolate at home for 10 days, even if you have had a negative test.

However, if you have had both vaccinations, you are advised to take a PCR test instead of the 10 day quarantine period.