How people are assessed for coronavirus tests changed on 25 March but there are no changes to healthcare worker appointments.
If your doctor has ordered a test
Anyone with an appointment on Thursday 26 March will still be tested so go to your appointment as planned.
All other tests are now cancelled apart from tests for healthcare workers.
If you have a fever and a cough or fever and shortness of breath and you are in a priority group (see below) you should call your GP to arrange a new test.
If you have any symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, blocked nose, cough or wheezing, you should behave as if you have the virus. Self-isolate to help stop the spread of this disease. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.
Getting a test for coronavirus
You should call your GP to be assessed for a test if you have a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above) or chills and one of the following symptoms:
- a cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
- shortness of breath
If you are in one of the priority groups (see below) and they think that you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you.
You will need to self-isolate while you wait for your test. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.
Phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone.
If you do not have a GP, any GP can arrange a test for you.
Do not ring GP out-of-hours services. They cannot arrange testing.
Priority groups for testing include people with specific symptoms of coronavirus who are also:
- Close contacts of a confirmed case
- Healthcare workers who are in the frontline and have regular patient contact
- Those most at risk of severe infection such as people with diabetes, immunosuppressed, chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic renal disease, chronic liver disease and smokers
- People who live with those in the above groups
- Staff and residents of nursing homes and other residential care settings and those in direct provision, homeless, ROMA and travelling community settings where symptom management is difficult
- Pregnant women to ensure they are managed safely in hospital
If your GP decides that you need to be tested
If your GP decides that you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you. You will need to self-isolate while you wait for your test. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.
Make sure your GP has the correct mobile number for you. This is so we can contact you by text message with your test details.
While you are waiting for your test, if your symptoms worsen, call your GP. If you have difficulty breathing or are feeling very unwell, call 112 or 999 and tell them about your symptoms.
If your GP decides that you do not need to be tested
If your GP decides that you do not need to be tested, you will still be asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.
Before you are tested
You will need to wait before you can have a test. This is because of the high demand.
Waiting times should become shorter as new test centres open, more staff are trained up, and new supplies arrive so that we can test more people.
While you wait for your test, you should behave as if you have the virus by self-isolating for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.
Treat your symptoms at home. Drink enough water to avoid dehydration – your pee should be light yellow or clear. Paracetamol may help with symptoms such as pain or fever.
Before taking any medication, read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. You should also follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.
If your symptoms get worse or are severe, phone your GP.
When you’ll get your results
You may be waiting a number of days for your test result. Most patients will get their results within about 5 days.
Patients who are most ill and in hospital are being prioritised so that they can get their results in 12 to 24 hours.
Continue to self-isolate while waiting for your test result.
Do not go to or phone your GP for test results. It is important that their phone lines are kept open for people who need help with symptoms.