Testing for people with symptoms

An important part of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of people in Kent is testing for coronavirus. We all have a duty to make sure that the right people have access to get tested at the right time. Every time a test is used inappropriately, a person with COVID-19 symptoms may miss out on getting tested.

Therefore, we’re asking everyone in Kent to follow these important principles.

To help prevent an outbreak, you need to:

  1. Look out for coronavirus symptoms.
  2. If you or someone you live with has any of the symptoms, self-isolate and get tested.
  3. If the test result is positive, self-isolate and share details of your recent contacts with the NHS Test and Trace service.

Coronavirus symptoms

You should only book a test for someone with any of these three coronavirus symptoms:

  • high temperature – any new high temperature where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure the temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – a noticeable loss of smell or taste or things smell and taste different to normal.

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Non coronavirus symptoms

If you have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell but do not have a temperature, cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste, these are not normally symptoms of coronavirus.

If you are unsure about whether to get a test, please check the official list of symptoms on the NHS website, which is reviewed regularly.

Who can get the test

Only the person with symptoms should get a test. You do not need to get a test for anyone else in the household unless they also have any of the three symptoms listed above. However, all members of the household need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the test result.

If the person with symptoms test comes back positive, other members of their household should continue self-isolating for 14 days and only get a test if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

Self-isolate and get tested

How to self-isolate

To self-isolate, you must not leave your home.

  • Do not go to work, school or visit public places - work from home if you can.
  • Do not go on public transport or use taxis.
  • Do not go out to get food and medicine - order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family - except for people providing essential care.
  • Do not go out to exercise - exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one.

You can also get advice on how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with on the NHS website.

How to get tested

If you or someone you live with has symptoms, it's important that you all get tested as soon as possible (within 5 days of symptoms starting).

There are 2 ways to get a test:

  • book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site
  • ask for a home test kit – this will be delivered to your home.

If you get a home test kit, you will need to do the test and return the kit in the next 48 hours. You will be told how to do this.

Book an appointment or order a home test kit on the GOV.UK website

If you don't have symptoms, you should book a symptom-free test.

The NHS have made us aware of some disruption to testing in England. Tests are still available in Kent and more slots are being continuously released.  You must only visit a testing station with a confirmed appointment and you cannot get a test through local NHS hospitals, GP surgeries or other healthcare settings.

The government currently aims to provide results within 48 hours of taking a test, but some results may take longer.

You will get your results by text, email or phone and the message will advise you about what to do next.

If you have any questions about your booking, please call the national helpline on 0300 303 2713.

If you have symptoms but are unable to get tested

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) but cannot get a test within 5 days of your symptoms first developing, you must protect your yourself and others by self-isolating for 10 days.

If your test result is positive

If your test result is positive:

If you're contacted by tracing services

If the NHS Test and Trace service or the Kent Local Tracing Partnership contact you because you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person. If you've been asked to self-isolate by tracing services, you may be eligible for support from the Test and Trace Payment Support Scheme.

Read more advice from the NHS about what to do if you're contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Protect Kent and Medway. Protect lives.