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

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

What test you’ll be offered

If you have symptoms, you should book a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. PCR tests involve taking a swab of your throat and nose, and are used to detect the genetic material of a virus. They're a very reliable way of identifying whether your symptoms are coronavirus.

Who can get a PCR test

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should book a PCR test. These symptoms 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 should not take a PCR test within 90 days of a positive result.

Get a PCR test if you have no symptoms

You should also book a test if:

  • you’re a close contact who isn’t fully vaccinated
  • you're self-isolating and intend to apply for the self-isolation grant
  • you’re in a high risk group prioritised for coronavirus treatments and have had a positive LFD test result
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by your local council, health protection team or healthcare professional
  • you’ve had 2 or more void LFD results
What does fully vaccinated mean?

A close contact who is fully vaccinated means you've received 3 doses of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you last saw the person who tested positive. If you live with the person who tested positive, the 14 days is counted from the day their symptoms started, or 14 days before they tested positive if they don't have symptoms.

If you’re a non-fully vaccinated close contact and you’ve already tested positive on a PCR test in the past 90 days, you should not get a PCR test unless you develop new symptoms yourself.

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.

Priority testing

Certain groups who have symptoms of coronavirus will be prioritised for PCR testing during busy periods.

You'll be prioritised for PCR testing if you are:

Those in a priority group should specify this when asked in the PCR booking portal.

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.