Phil Day By Superintendent Pharmacist Published:

The Government has launched the NHS test and trace service to help control the spread of coronavirus, which is especially important while lockdown restrictions begin to ease. This new service asks people in England to help play their part in controlling the virus, so here’s an explanation of how it works and your responsibilities.

What does test and trace mean?

The NHS test and trace service has been set up to ensure that anyone who develops symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be tested to confirm if they have the virus. It then asks for details of the close recent contacts of anyone who’s tested positive, and notifies them that they must self isolate at home.

By tracing those who have been in close proximity to someone with coronavirus, the NHS test and trace service will act as an early warning system. If the Government is able to get a better picture of how the virus is spreading, they can put counter measures in place earlier to help reduce the infection rate.

What to do if you have symptoms of the coronavirus

  1. Self-isolate, as per NHS guidance, as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms. You must self-isolate for 7 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days. 
  2. Get yourself tested. You can book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you don’t have internet access.

If you test positive:

  1. Complete the rest of your 7 day isolation. Anyone in your household must complete the rest of their 14 days of isolation. 
  2. Share the information. If you test positive, the NHS test and trace system will send you an alert by text or email with instructions on how to share details with those you’ve had close and recent contact with. It’s important you respond quickly so that the correct advice can be given to those who need it. You’ll do this online via a secure website or you’ll be called by an NHS contact tracer.   

If you test negative:

  1. If the test is negative, you and the people in your household no longer need to self-isolate.

What to do if you’re contacted by someone from the NHS test and trace service

You’ll be sent an alert by text or email, or called by the NHS test and trace service if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. You should then:

  1. Log into the NHS test and trace website. If you can’t use the website, they will call you. Under 18’s will be called via their parent/guardian.
  2. Self-isolate for 14 days from the time you last had contact with the person who tested positive. You must do this, even if you’re not feeling unwell. If you don’t have symptoms, your household doesn’t need to self isolate too, but you do all need to practice social distancing at home.
  3. Test if required. If you develop symptoms of the coronavirus, the members of your household must self-isolate for 14 days.

How to order a test

You can order your test through the NHS website. There are different ways for you to access a test including mobile testing units, regional drive-throughs and home tests. 

For more information

To find out more about the NHS test and trace service, click here. For more information on the coronavirus click here.