This page is reviewed regularly. Last updated at 15:05 on 15th February 2021.

Testing for COVID-19

Testing plays an important part in our battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Here is more information about the testing available in the UK and how to get tested. Please note, Babylon does not offer private COVID-19 tests.

The antigen ‘have I got COVID-19 right now’ test

Also known as the PCR test or swab test, this test identifies whether you are currently infected. It is recommended to take the test if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. This test is widely available and free on the NHS, either as an at home sampling kit or at regional drive-through or walk-through centres.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, book a test.

For more details on the types of tests available and their results, please find more information here.

Test and Trace

If you or anyone you live with have any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should request an antigen test. You need to be tested within the first 5 days of having symptoms in Scotland and Wales, and if you live in Scotland you should still book a test after 5 days if advised to do so. You need to be tested within the first 8 days of having symptoms in England and Northern Ireland. The test involves swabbing the inside of your nose and back of your throat with a cotton bud, and can be done by yourself if you are over the age of 12.

Testing for COVID-19 will help determine whether you, anyone you live with, or anyone in your support bubble, need to self-isolate. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service or by your council (by e-mail, text or phone) and may be asked about your name, date of birth, postcode, where you have been recently and your recent close contacts.

You may also want to inform anyone that you have been in close contact with over the past 48 hours that you might have COVID-19. Close contact may include the following:

  • Being less than one metre away and face to face
  • Being less than one metre away and not face to face for more than one minute
  • Being within one to two metres of each other for more than 15 minutes
  • Being together in your home for long periods of time
  • Travelling together in a car or other small vehicle, or close to someone on a plane

While recent contacts do not need to self-isolate unless instructed by the NHS Test and Trace service or the NHS COVID-19 app, they should follow the social distancing guidance closely and pay particular attention to good hand and respiratory hygiene.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app

If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app and informed that you were in contact with someone with COVID-19, you should self-isolate from the day you were last in contact with the person and the next 10 full days. The rest of your household and your support bubble do not need to self-isolate for this period unless you develop symptoms.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household (as well as your support bubble) should self-isolate until you are tested and receive your test result. If you test negative, you should continue self-isolating from the day you were last in contact and the next 10 full days since you still may develop symptoms. Your household and support bubble do not need to self-isolate. If you test positive, self-isolate from the day your symptoms appeared and for the next 10 full days unless you still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. Your household and your support bubble should self-isolate from the same date and for the next 10 full days. If any of these members develop symptoms, they should also self-isolate from when their symptoms began and at least 10 full days. If they are tested and receive a negative result, they should continue self-isolating for the original 10 days.