IF you’re feeling ill or worried you might have Covid, the the best way to know for sure is to take a test.
The gold standard test is the PCR, which is sent off to a lab to be properly processed.
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What is a PCR Covid test?
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) are swabs that can be taken at a drive-through centre or at your home.
It is sent to a laboratory where a lab technician looks for genetic material of the virus using highly specialised equipment.
The PCR tests are much better at finding very small amounts of the virus, especially early during an infection.
So these are used primarily in people who have Covid symptoms.
How does it work?
It uses a long cotton bud, which takes a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat.
They are being used to check if people have the virus but are not showing symptoms.
By catching these people it means they can isolate at home and not spread the virus.
PCR tests – which are mainly for people with Covid symptoms – are sent to a lab to be checked.
If you have any of these three Covid symptoms, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed.
You can order an NHS PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site.
How long do results take from a PCR Covid test?
Most people typically get their result the next day, but it can take up to three days.
Usually the result is sent to you via text or email when it’s ready. If you have the NHS Covid-19 app, the result might come to you that way.
If you do not get your results by day six, then call 119. Calls to 119 are free from a landline or mobile phone. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm.
At very busy periods the labs have been swamped with tests and it has taken longer to get a result.
Do I have to self-isolate after I test positive for Covid-19?
It’s a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you don’t.
You should not leave the house for any reason, including for work or to go to the shops.
Self-isolate immediately if you have symptoms, have had a positive test result or someone you live with has Covid or has tested positive.
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You must also isolate if someone in your support bubble has Covid or has tested positive, or you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk.
If you have not had symptoms, you must self-isolate for 10 days from your test date.
If you have symptoms, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started, if earlier than when you took your test.