Coronavirus (COVID-19): Testing

Testing is part of the national Test and Protect approach to containing coronavirus (COVID-19).

There are test centres across Scotland for people with and without symptoms. You can also get tests to do at home.

You can get a test for:

  • yourself
  • someone you care for
  • a child in your care

Types of coronavirus test

The 2 types of coronavirus test currently being used regularly are:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • lateral flow device (LFD) – also known as a rapid test

PCR tests

If you have symptoms, book a PCR test.

You should also book a PCR test if:

  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a health protection team
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • you’ve been identified as a close contact through Test and Protect or the Protect Scotland app

PCR tests detect the genetic material of a virus and are the most reliable coronavirus tests. It usually takes up to 48 hours to get the results because they are processed in a laboratory.

Find out how to do a PCR test at home and get advice on your test result

LFD tests – also known as rapid tests

LFD tests are rapid tests you can do yourself. You should only use this type of test if you do not have coronavirus symptoms.

LFD tests:

  • are simple to use
  • give a result in 30 minutes
  • help find positive cases in people who are infectious but don’t have symptoms

Everyone in Scotland is encouraged to take this type of test twice a week.

Your LFD test is not complete until you report your result and receive a result confirmation notification.

If you receive a positive LFD test result, you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test within 48 hours.

Find out how to do a rapid LFD test at home and get advice on your test result

Antibody tests

Antibody testing is being used in Scotland for population research and, where appropriate, clinical management of patients. You can request an antibody test, but this will be at the discretion of your clinician and depend on whether this will affect your treatment or clinical management.

Antibody tests can show if you have had the virus, but a positive test does not mean you are immune from further infection or from being able to infect others. If you have recovered from a coronavirus infection you should continue to follow physical distancing measures and self-isolation advice if you develop new symptoms to protect others.

GOV.UK has further information about antibody testing for coronavirus

Repeat PCR testing

Repeating a PCR test within 90 days of a positive result is not recommended for the general public, unless you develop new symptoms. While you may no longer be infectious, a repeated PCR test can detect fragments of coronavirus that remain in your system. As a result, you can still get a positive test result several weeks after you have had coronavirus.

It’s not yet known how long immunity will last following infection. If you recover from coronavirus and later develop new symptoms, you must:

If your employer has told you that you need to be re-tested, you should follow their advice on when you can return to work.

Proof of a negative test for overseas travel

You won’t be tested if you need to prove you don’t have coronavirus as a condition of travel.

If you need to travel for work and require evidence of a test, speak to your occupational health adviser.

Read further information about testing for people travelling to Scotland

Feedback

You can provide feedback or make a complaint about your coronavirus testing experience by emailing NHS National Services Scotland.

Further information