Testing and isolation

Updated 11.04.22

There is no longer a legal requirement for people with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection to self-isolate, however if you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

Symptoms of Covid-19

Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature 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
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

If you think you might have COVID, or are experiencing a number of these of symptoms, please follow the NHS advice:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days (adults) or 3 days (children), particularly if you have a high temperature or don't feel well enough to go to work/school or carry on with normal activities.
  • take extra care to avoid close contact with anyone who is at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID
  • go back to your normal activities only when you feel better or do not have a high temperature
Testing

From Friday 1 April 2022, the Government will no longer provide free universal symptomatic (PCR) and asymptomatic testing (LFD) for the general public in England.

Most people in England are no longer advised to get tested. If you think you have COVID, read the advice under 'symptoms of COVID-19' above.

There are a small number of people who can still get free COVID tests from the NHS:

  • people with a health condition that makes them eligible for new COVID-19 treatments
  • people who are going into hospital for surgery or a procedure
  • people who work in the NHS or in social care

If you are eligible, you can order free lateral flow test kits on the Government website.

If you are not eligible for a free NHS test and still want to get tested, you must pay for a COVID-19 test yourself. These are available to buy from some pharmacies and retailers, in person or online.

It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for COVID unless directed to by a health professional.

Self isolating

If you think you have COVID, or you test positive for COVID, the most effective way to avoid passing the virus to others is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

You should follow the NHS advice:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days (adults) or 3 days (children), particularly if you have a high temperature or don't feel well enough to go to work/school or do your normal activities
  • take extra care to avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID
  • go back to your normal activities only when you feel better or do not have a high temperature

There is more guidance on living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19, on the Government website.

There are also health and social care guidance available on the Government website including managing staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection, preventing infection and testing.

Antibody and Antiviral Treatments

The NHS is offering new antibody and antiviral treatments to people with coronavirus (COVID-19) who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill.

See treatments for coronavirus for further information including treatments available and eligibility for COVID-19 treatments.