Test, trace, self-isolate

Updated 30.11.21

Symptoms of Covid-19

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

There are other symptoms that have been reported by people who have tested positive, such as: a persistent headache, diarrhoea, fever and chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose and nausea or vomiting.

Read more about the extended list of symptoms on the CDC's website. The World Health Organisation website also contains information on known symptoms.

How to get a test

Testing for people with symptoms

If you have one or more of the following Covid-19 symptoms you must isolate and book a test immediately:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you have other symptoms or been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive, you can take a PCR test whether or not you have symptoms. You can book a PCR test online or by calling 119.

Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The online booking system will ask if you have symptoms. Click "No" if you don't have any of the classic symptoms but still require a PCR test.

You will then be asked a number of questions until you get to one that asks you why you want to book a test.

Select the option that says: "My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms."

You will then be able to book an appointment to get tested.

If you have symptoms that are not one of the three classic symptoms of Covid-19, you do not need to legally isolate unless the PCR test result is positive. However, you may wish to isolate at home as you usually would with any other illness.

PCR Testing Sites

  • Blackburn Hospital Car Park: 08:00-18:00 (Drive through test site) open 7 days a week
  • Penny Street Car Park Blackburn: 08:00-18:00 open 7 days a week
  • Railway Road Darwen – 08:00-18:00 open 7 days a week

Christmas/New Year Opening Times

  • December 25: 00-12:00
  • December 26:10:00-12:00
  • January 1: 10:00_12:00

PCR Mobile Test Units

  • Pleasington Playing Fields Blackburn: 10:00-15:00: December 1 to 3, 6 to 10, 13 to 17, 20 to 24, 27 & 31
  • Ewood Park Blackburn (10:45-15:45hrs): December 5,11,12,19,25,26 (10:00 -12:00)

How to request a home testing kit

If you are unable to visit a PCR test centre, you can request a home test kit by calling 119 - you will need an email address to do this.

You can also ask for a courier to collect your test once you have done it. These kits are only for people with symptoms.

If your result is positive

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If your PCR test result is positive, you must isolate from the day your symptoms began and for the next 10 days. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result and the guidance for households with possible or confirmed Covid-19 infections.

From 16 August, those who have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will not have to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case.

Anyone who has previously received a positive Covid-19 PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test, unless they develop any new symptoms of Covid-19.

This is because traces of the virus can still show up in a test when you are no longer infectious so may give you an inaccurate test result.

Full details on the requirements for self-isolation if you have symptoms or been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive are contained in the following link:

NHS Test and Trace: what to do if you are contacted - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If your result is negative

A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. You do not usually need to self-isolate if you get a negative result. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result.

If members of your household test positive

If one or more people in your household test positive for Covid-19, you should take a PCR test at the earliest opportunity, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.

This is particularly important for children and young people in education settings as it will reduce the chance of the virus being spread in those settings.

You do not need to isolate while you wait for the result unless you develop one or more of the three classic Covid symptoms. If you become unwell with other symptoms, try to stay home.

Testing for people without symptoms

Anyone in Blackburn with Darwen can access free, rapid coronavirus tests for themselves and their families to use twice a week and on days when you’re more likely to catch or spread Covid-19, for example when mixing with people in crowded indoor spaces or when visiting someone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19

Rapid testing is a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19, but who may still be spreading the virus.

Research shows rapid tests are a reliable test for Covid-19. They give a quick result and do not need to be sent to a lab.

Even if you’re vaccinated, you could still catch the virus or pass it on. Doing rapid tests helps to protect yourself and others.

The council has establish 2 rapid coronavirus testing sites:

  • The Mall (opposite M&S) Blackburn: 08:00-16:00 Monday to Friday
  • The Works Railway Road Darwen: 08:00-16:00 Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Closed December 27-28 (incl) and January 3.

Community Collection Points

In addition there are a number of community collection points where anybody can collect free rapid coronavirus test kits:

  • The Mall (opposite M&S) Blackburn 08:00-16:00 Monday to Friday
  • The Works Railway Road Darwen 08:00-16:00 Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Closed December 27-28 (incl) and January 3.

Community Centres

  • Little Harwood Community Centre: 10:30-12:00 Monday
  • Accrington Road Community Centre: 10:30-12:00 Monday
  • Ivy Street Community Centre: 10:30-12:00 Tuesday
  • Darwen Valley Community Centre: 10:30-12:00 Tuesday
  • Mill Hill Community Centre: 10:30-12:00 Tuesday
  • Greenfields Community Centre: 09:00-14:30 Monday to Friday
  • Higher Croft Children’s Centre: 08:00-18:00 Monday to Friday

Note: Opening times may vary over the Christmas and New Year period.


Blackburn Library

  • 10:00-19:00 Monday
  • 10:00-17:00 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • 10:00-14:00 Saturday

Darwen Library

  • 10:00-19:00 Monday
  • 13:00-17:00 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • 10:00-14:00 Saturday

Cherry Tree Library

  • 14:00-16:30 Monday
  • 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-16:30 Wednesday
  • 14:00-16:30 Friday
  • 10:00-12:30 Saturday

Mill Hill Library

10:00-12:00 Wednesday and Thursday

Note: Opening times may vary over the Christmas and New Year period.

Schools testing

Schools testing programme

For information on the schools testing programme for pupils, staff and support bubble members please see the schools testing section.

SMART testing in the workplace

Information on smart testing in the workplace is available here.

Test results and contact tracing

You’ll usually get a text or email with your result. If you use the NHS Covid-19 app, you may also get your results in the app.

If you test positive you have a legal duty to self-isolate. If you do not self-isolate you may be fined at least £1,000 and up to £10,000 for multiple breaches.

The Blackburn with Darwen Test and Trace team will contact you if you have tested positive for Covid-19 and obtain details of anyone you have been in contact with.

You have a legal duty to stay at home for a period ending 10 days after the onset of symptoms, or if you have had no symptoms, for 10 days after the date of your positive test.

If someone you live with has symptoms of Covid-19, or has tested positive for Covid-19, you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You’re fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a Covid-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You’re under 18 years, 6 months old
  • You’re taking part or have taken part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial
  • You’re not able to get a vaccination for medical reasons

Even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:

Please read the section below on ‘Self-isolating’ and ‘Finance Support available’

You can read more about test results on the NHS website.

Blackburn with Darwen test and trace

The Council will contact you by text, phone or email.

Text messages/Calls will come from 01254 585094 or 585995. It is important that you reply to these messages and calls.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

If we fail to contact you a Blackburn with Darwen public protection officer and/ or another member of our partner services will be sent to your residence in person to contact you.

Personal information

The Council will ask you:

  • Your name, date of birth and postcode
  • If you live with other people
  • Any places you've been recently, such as a workplace or school
  • Names and contact details of any people you were in close contact with before your symptoms started (if you know these details)

You will not be asked for

  • Bank details or payments
  • Details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • Passwords or PIN numbers
  • You won’t be asked to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

All information you provide to the Council is confidential. No one who is contacted as a result of your positive test will be told your identity.

Self isolating

Fully vaccinated individuals

Providing you have been fully vaccinated (14 days after the final dose) and are not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms, anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate.

You are however advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible. The same advice applies to those who are fully vaccinated and have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the results of a PCR test.

If your PCR test result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started. This will help avoid spreading the infection to other people. This continues to be a legal requirement.

If you test positive and get identified as a contact again within 90 days, you should not take a PCR test. NHS Test and Trace will advise further when they make contact.

Partially vaccinated/ unvaccinated individuals

The following groups will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, should they be identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 PCR test result:

  • Those who have not received their COVID-19 vaccination
  • Those who have not received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccination
  • Those who have received their second dose within the last 14 days
  • Those who have tested positive following a PCR test
  • Those who have been fully vaccinated and are displaying COVID-19 symptoms (ahead of getting a PCR test).

For those who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or received their second dose within the last 14 days, the 10 day isolation period must be completed, even if they receive a negative result during that time.

Anyone under the age of 18 who is a close contact of a positive case does not have to self-isolate. In most cases individuals will be advised to take a PCR test, dependent on their age, and will need to self-isolate only if they test positive. Those turning 18 will be treated in the same way as children until the age of 18 years and 6 months, to allow them time to get vaccinated.

The above guidance also applies to those who share a household. A leaflet on the Government website details the actions that should be taken if someone within a household tests positive. More details can also be found on the Government website.

Financial Support for parents or guardians of children self-isolating can be offered dependant on circumstance.

The Test and Trace Support Payment is available for people on low incomes who must self-isolate due to COVID-19.

The testing policy has not changed. Those who are fully vaccinated will only be required to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 following a PCR test. PCR testing as an important tool in protecting the progress made against the pandemic and keeping restrictions at a low level.

Even with a negative result, it is recommended to take the following extra precautions to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, especially if you are clinically vulnerable:

  • Meet outside, or open windows and doors for indoor visitors
  • If you think you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test
  • Wear face coverings in crowded places and on public transport
  • Check in to venues when you go out
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly, and for at least 20 seconds

You may have to self-isolate when you arrive in England, if you are travelling from a country that is not on the travel corridor exempt list. Please check the Government website for further details, including how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK.

The NHS COVID-19 app

The NHS COVID-19 app is changing to reflect the new rules introduced on 16th August.

  • The app will ask you to confirm your age and vaccination status in order to update the advice provided by the app.
  • If you are a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 you will be advised to either take PCR tests or self-isolate in accordance with your situation.
  • If you are advised to self-isolate, the self-isolation countdown timer can help you keep track of your isolation days.

Two doses of the vaccine may greatly reduce your risk of becoming unwell with COVID-19, however, it is still possible to contract the virus and pass it to others. You will be able to use the app to understand what is happening and help control the spread of the virus.

Please refer to the NHS website for further information about the COVID-19 app.

Financial support for those self-isolating

Information on the financial support that may be available to you.

Covid-19 Rehab programme

The NHS have launched a Covid-19 Recovery service for those who may still be coming to terms with the impact the virus has had on both the body and mind. Find out more.

Antibody testing

Antibody testing is a key part of the Government’s testing programme and will play an increasingly important role as we move into the next phase of responding to this epidemic.

Free antibody testing is not widely available yet. It’s currently offered to NHS and care staff, as well as some hospital patients and care home residents.

Patients who are already having blood taken as part of other tests (either in hospital or in their GP practice) will be asked whether they would like an antibody test. You can read further information on the NHS website.

If you’ve had coronavirus, you can donate blood plasma to help researchers find treatments. Read more about how to get involved.