Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested

Guidance on coronavirus testing for essential workers who are self-isolating

One of the most challenging things about COVID-19 is the uncertainty: not knowing who has the infection or when it’s safe to return to normal life. Good-quality testing can help provide greater certainty.

As part of the government’s 5-pillar strategy for COVID-19 testing, they are testing people who have coronavirus-like symptoms to see if they currently have the virus.

Who can be tested

The priority is testing patients to inform their clinical diagnosis. In addition, we are now also testing:

  • Essential workers with symptoms
  • People who live with essential workers and have symptoms.

This means essential workers can find out whether they have the virus, and they can be helped to return to work if they test negative. Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing.

Please note that this applies to England only. There is separate guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Read the guidance

Who are the essential workers?