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Testing: Where GPs should direct patients for a swab test

How patients can secure a swab test to see if they have Covid-19

Who is eligbile for testing in the UK?

The following groups of people can ask for a test through the NHS website:

  • anyone in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus – ie a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – whatever their age
  • anyone in Scotland and Northern Ireland aged over the age of five who has symptoms of coronavirus

When to apply?

Apply within the first three days of having symptoms. The test is best taken within five days of symptoms starting.

You might not get a test if you apply – it depends how many tests are available in your area. People in hospital and essential workers, including NHS and social care staff, are getting priority.

What does the test involve?

The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

How can tests be requested?

Patients who are not essential workers can ask for a test online:

They will be asked:

  • how you want to get the test – you may be able to choose between driving to a regional testing site or getting a home test kit
  • for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address

GPs and other essential workers can request priority tests for themselves and their household members through a different route.

Source: Department of Health and Social Care, Coronavirus (Covid): getting tested guidance [updated 1 June], NHS England, Ask for a test to check if you have coronavirus [updated 28 May]