Coronavirus: Getting tested

Coronavirus: Getting tested

One of the most challenging things about coronavirus 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 us with greater certainty. It’s a big part of how we’re going to defeat this disease.

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

Click here to book a test.


Who can be tested

Their priority is testing patients to inform their clinical diagnosis.

They’re also testing:

– all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers)

– anyone over 65 with symptoms

– anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)

They will also test anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus that lives with those identified above.


In addition, they’re also testing:

– social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes

– NHS workers and patients without symptoms where there is a clinical need, in line with NHS England guidance

This means anyone in one of these groups can find out whether they have the virus. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.

Using the new online portal

For employers wishing to support their employees by managing their test registration, the first step is to email for access to the portal.

Please include your organisation name and sector, as well as the name and email address of up to two people who will use the portal. A step-by-step guide is attached with this letter.

Employee Self-Referral

Workers who are self-isolating can book a test directly. You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit.

Home test kit availability will initially be limited but more will become available.

Types of testing

We have established over 30 drive-through regional test centres and we are increasing this to up to 50 by the end of April.

We are also introducing a range of additional testing methods to support testing accessibility, including home test kits. There are currently a limited number of these kits available, however we anticipate that availability will increase significantly by the end of April.

The home test kits will be delivered by Amazon and sent directly to the individual’shome so they can perform the test themselves. They will then be collected by Royal Mail couriers. This option is available via the employee self-referral route.

Further information

Click on the links to download each guide.

Information includes:

Letter from DHSC to employers
Information pack explaining the programme in brief and how to use the communications materials to inform your staff
FAQ for employers; FAQ to answer staff questions
Slide pack explaining how to use the employer portal and click here for instructions for staff on how to use the online booking system
Infographic explaining how to book a test

If you need further guidance and support, please contact DHSC at Employees who have been referred for a test can seek assistance from the Coronavirus Testing Helpdesk on 0300 303 2713 for any technical issues related to their booking.

Testing is a crucial part of our response to the coronavirus crisis and supporting you in opening up your businesses. We appreciate all your help and support in ensuring your employees have fast access to testing.

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