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Test and Trace: When should I get a covid test?

In recent weeks there has been an increase in coronavirus cases in the UK, and a number of areas have been placed under additional lockdown measures to control the prevalence of the virus. Everyone is now eligible to request a coronavirus test, but the NHS Test and Trace programme appears to be struggling to keep up with demand.

Many people have requested issues when trying to book a test, such as finding there are no tests available, or being asked to drive to a test centre many miles away.

But in recent weeks there have also been issues with people receiving their test results back.

The NHS states most people get their coronavirus test results the day after taking the test.

But recently the testing system has been heavily criticised, as only one third of tests came back in 24 hours in the week up to September 9.

This is compared to two-thirds of tests coming back within 24 hours the week earlier.

Head of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding told the science and technology committee this week the service aims to hit capacity for 500,000 tests a day next month.

She said: “I am certain we will need more as we go beyond the end of October. We have plans to go beyond 500,000 a day.”

When should I get a covid test?

People with coronavirus symptoms are being told to book a covid test as soon as possible.

You may also need to get a covid test if you are asked to book one, such as if your local council requests it, if you’re about to go into hospital or if you are part of a Government pilot project.

The Government is urging only people with symptoms or who are requested to get a test do so.

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The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a change or loss in your sense of taste and smell.

Anyone with covid symptoms should book to be tested during the first five days of having symptoms.

You can book a test at one of the many testing centres across the UK.

But you can also request a home test kit if this isn’t convenient, providing they are available when you book.

Should you book a covid test if NHS Test and Trace contact you?

NHS Test and Trace may contact you to let you know you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

If this is the case, you will be told to self-isolate for 14 days.

If you do not get symptoms of coronavirus while self-isolating, you do not need to be tested for the virus.

But if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and then develop symptoms of COVID-19 while self-isolating, you should get a test as soon as possible.

Anyone you live with or in your support bubble must also self-isolate until you receive your result.

If you test negative but were previously contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you should continue self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days since you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for coronavirus.

Anyone self-isolating in your household or support bubble can stop self-isolating when you receive a negative result, providing they don’t have coronavirus symptoms.

If you test positive, you need to self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

Anyone in your household or support bubble must also self-isolate for 14 days.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, further guidance on what to do is available on the NHS website.

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