Coronavirus crisis: When should I get tested for Covid-19?

It's difficult to know what to do

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With the UK in the grips of the coronavirus outbreak, more and more people are coming down with the flu-like bug – and the death toll continues to climb.

The UK Government has come under fire for its response to the crisis, which has now officially been designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

It’s now officially a pandemic (Credit:

With cold and flu common at this time of year anyway, it’s hard to know exactly what to do if we start to feel unwell, what symptoms we should look out for and when we should look to get tested for coronavirus.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature and what it describes as a “new, continuous cough”. Another is shortness of breath.

One man with the virus who described his experience of self-isolation told the BBC that for him, it was “no different to normal flu-type symptoms” – although he said the “worst bit is the uncontrollable coughing”.

When should I get tested for coronavirus?

At present, the official advice is to remain at home if you are either showing any of the symptoms or otherwise think you might have the bug.

On the NHS’ website, it asks for people to stay at home and self-isolate for seven days.

Seven days is currently the recommended amount of time to spend in self-isolation (Credit: Jeff Moore /

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It also advises people not to go to their doctors, as they run the risk of passing the virus on to other, potentially more vulnerable people.

People are also asked not to go to a pharmacy or hospital, but simply to stay at home.

Those with symptoms don’t even need to call the non-emergency 111 number, although you can call it if your condition worsens, you feel like you’re not coping with your symptoms at home or if you’re still not better after seven days.

At the moment, the NHS is not testing everybody with symptoms, so you might not have to be tested at all.

The only people currently being tested for coronavirus are those who have travelled to certain areas where the virus is present, or have been in contact with someone known to have it.

You may be put in touch with members of your local health protection team, who will direct you to a nearby testing location.

What happens during a coronavirus test?

The BBC reported that the typical procedure at a testing booth will involve following signs to a dedicated isolation pod and calling 111 from within the pod.

Not everyone with symptoms is being tested (Credit: Sebastian Gollnow/DPA/Cover Images)

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A nurse will then arrive in protective clothing to take swabs, with results expected within 24 hours.

The NHS was previously only able to test around 1,500 people a day, but the health service has ramped up capabilities and can now test as many as 10,000 every day.

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