Coronavirus: when to get a test and self-isolate

Updated: 9 October 2020

When to get tested

Visit GOV.UK for guidance on who is eligible for a test and how to get tested.

If you have a recent onset of any of the symptoms below you must follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and arrange to have a test to see if you have coronavirus (COVID-19).

Get a free NHS coronavirus test

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

You must get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

You must also self-isolate if you cannot get a test because it’s more than 5 days since your symptoms started.

If you have symptoms, try and stay as far away from other members of your household as possible. It is especially important to stay away from anyone who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable with whom you share a household.

Reduce the spread of infection in your home by washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser, and cover coughs and sneezes.

Consider alerting people who you do not live with and have had close contact within the last 48 hours to let them know you have symptoms of COVID-19.

When to self-isolate

From 28 September, you could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (however mild), self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. 

If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken.

If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms.

After 10 days, if you still have a temperature you should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. 

If you live with others, all other household members need to stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken. If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 14-day isolation period. 

If you develop symptoms you may wish to alert the people who you do not live with and that you have had close contact with over the last 48 hours to let them know that you might have COVID-19 but are waiting for a test result. 

Residents in North Herts who are struggling financially because they cannot work after being told to self-isolate can now apply for a new support fund provided by government and run by councils.

Test and Trace service

Following a positive test result, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts. If you do not have access to the internet, then you will be phoned by a contact tracer working for the NHS Test and Trace service.

Testing in Hertfordshire

For information on testing sites available across Hertfordshire, visit the HCC website.