Coronavirus (COVID-19): Get a test if you have symptoms

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should isolate immediately and book a test.

What test you’ll be offered

The test you’ll book is a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. PCR tests detect the genetic material of a virus and are the most reliable coronavirus tests.

Who can get a PCR test

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should book a PCR test.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature or fever
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change in sense of smell or taste

A new, continuous cough means coughing for longer than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual.

You should get tested in the first 3 days of symptoms appearing, although testing is effective until day 5. You won’t normally be tested after day 5 unless it’s for a specific reason. This will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Get a PCR test if you have no symptoms

You should also book a test if:

  • you’ve been asked to get a test by your local council, health protection team or healthcare professional
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result
  • you’ve had 2 or more void LFD results
  • you’ve been identified as a close contact through Test and Protect or the Protect Scotland app

If you do not have symptoms, and you have not been asked to book a test for any of these reasons, you can get a lateral flow device (LFD) test.

If you’re a close contact of someone who has tested positive

You should book a PCR test as soon as possible if you're a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

If you’re a close contact but you’ve already tested positive in the past 90 days, you should not get tested unless you develop new symptoms yourself.

How to book a test

Use this guide to find out how to get tested for coronavirus.

Self-help guide

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Phone 119 if you can’t book a test online.

Testing for children aged 11 or under

If you are a parent or guardian of a child aged 11 or under, you will have to swab test your child.

This applies whether you:

  • get a home test kit
  • go to a test site

If you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate before your test and while waiting for your results.

Attending a test site

There are drive-through testing sites, mobile testing units and walk-through test centres across Scotland. For a full list of testing sites, read Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland

Walk-through test centres

A guide to walk-in test centres (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6JhOplZLIM)

Walk-through test centres are easy to travel to by walking or cycling. You don’t need to drive to them.

If you are attending a walk-through test centre you must:

  • stay 2 metres apart from others
  • maintain good hygiene
  • wear a face covering throughout

You must not travel to walk-through test centres by taxi or public transport.

Walk-through testing centres have been designed so people can move around them safely and to prevent the spread of the virus. There are other ways to access testing – such as home test kits and drive-through sites – that are more suitable if you're unable to wear a face covering.

At the walk-through test centre, you will self-test in a booth. The test involves taking a swab of your nose and the back of your throat. Your test sample will then be collected by staff and sent to a lab for analysis.

Home tests

You may be able to order a PCR test to do at home, depending on availability.