Coronavirus (COVID-19): Testing

The purpose of the UK Government testing programme is to determine whether those with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (however mild) have the virus.

This is separate to the existing health and social care key worker testing programme.

Testing is part of the national Test and Protect approach to containing the virus.

Who can be tested

You can book a test online for anyone aged 5 or over with symptoms in your household.

Key workers, and anyone in their household with symptoms, can access testing through their employer in the first instance and will be given priority.

The Scottish Government have published guidance on coronavirus testing in Scotland, including who can be tested and how to book a test online.

Key workers in Scotland

For the purpose of testing, the Scottish Government has divided key workers into 5 priority groups:

  • Priority Group 1A: Staff delivering NHS services, providing social care to protect and care for the most vulnerable, all NHS staff and independent contractors working for the NHS
  • Priority Group 1B: Staff with face-to-face roles in residential institutions with people in the care of the state and those who are working in essential services with niche roles, where service resilience is at risk
  • Priority Group 2: Essential workers in critical national infrastructure fundamental for safety and security, and life-line services
  • Priority Group 3: Staff directly involved in delivering other essential services
  • Priority Group 4: Staff and volunteers in third or public sector organisations including unpaid carers, and staff in nationally or locally significant industry important to economic sustainability and growth

You can find a further breakdown of each group in the Scottish Government's coronavirus testing prioritisation matrix

Health and care workers

If you’re a health or social care key worker currently self-isolating because you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms, and you’re otherwise able to work, contact your employer about testing. Your employer will be able to advise if anyone in your household with symptoms is eligible to be tested.

Public Health Scotland have published interim guidance on testing in care homes and the management of positive residents.

When to test

The test is only reliable if you have coronavirus symptoms.

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.

Access testing

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

Self-help guide

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Phone the coronavirus helpline (0800 028 2816) if you can’t access the test form online or need help to complete it.

Test results

The test will confirm if a person with symptoms has the virus. It won’t confirm whether they have had it and recovered.

Results are sent by text to your mobile phone and should be with you within 48 hours. They are issued to whoever booked the test.

If you have had a positive test result you should follow our guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

More about test results from the Scottish Government

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.

More about antibody testing for coronavirus is available through GOV.UK.

Proof of a negative test for overseas travel

You won’t be tested for coronavirus unless you have symptoms or work in certain roles and need to travel for work. This includes those who work in care homes and selected groups of healthcare workers, and only if this has been agreed as a policy or occupational health decision.

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.

Further information