How to test yourself for coronavirus (COVID-19) before you go to hospital is a guide from the government’s Department of Health and Social Care.
It tells you:
Coronavirus is an illness that is spreading around the world. Lots of people call it COVID-19.
We have a test for coronavirus. You can do the test on yourself.
You need to do the test and then isolate for 3 days before you go to hospital to make sure you are not ill.
You can have coronavirus and not feel ill.
Some people are very ill with it.
You may get a high temperature and a cough.
You might not be able to taste or smell things.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms you must isolate and can book a test.
1. Register your kit before you test
It is really important to register your test as soon as you get your kit.
If you do not register, you and the hospital cannot get your test results, and your procedure may be delayed.
To register you will need:
your order ID. It is made up of 10 numbers. You can find this in the text you received
your test kit barcode. It is made up of 11 letters and numbers. Check this barcode is on your booklet, plastic tube, leak-proof bag and return box
your Royal Mail barcode on the prepaid return label. It is made up of 13 letters and numbers
2. Book your courier collection
A courier is a person who picks up your test kit and takes it to the lab.
You need to book your courier 4 days before you go to the hospital.
Book your courier online or call 0800 0511 811 between 8am and 6pm.
You will need your Royal Mail barcode.
Your courier will come between 8am and 4pm the next day.
3. Prepare to test
Take your test 3 days before you go to the hospital.
You need to take your test and pack up your kit before 7am on this day, so it is ready for the courier.
The test is nothing to worry about. It will be very quick and it will not hurt.
Clean and dry a surface.
Then unpack everything from the test kit onto it.
If you have a runny nose, you will need to blow your nose with a tissue before taking the test.
Before you take the test, wash your hands with soap and water.
You will take a test from your throat and your nose using a swab.
A swab is like a large cotton bud.
You will use the same swab for both your throat and your nose.
If you cannot swab your throat, you can swab both nostrils instead.
Open the package and gently take out the swab.
Do not let the tip of the swab touch other surfaces or it could mix up your results.
4. Throat swab
Look inside your mouth and find your tonsils. Your tonsils are the soft parts at the back of your throat.
You need to open your mouth and stick out your tongue.
Use the swab to take a sample from you throat
Gently rub the swab over the soft part at the back of your throat for 4 times on each side.
It may be a bit uncomfortable and may make you gag, but it will not hurt.
5. Nose swab
Use the same swab to take a sample from your nose.
If one of your nostrils is pierced, swab the other nostril.
Put the swab into your nostril and push it gently upwards.
It will not hurt and it will not go too far up.
Gently turn the swab for 10 complete circles.
This will not hurt but may be a bit uncomfortable.
If you did not swab your throat, now swab the second nostril.
6. Put the swab into the plastic tube
A plastic tube is a small jar filled with a little liquid.
Make sure the liquid stays in the tube.
Snap off the stick end of the swab so that it fits into the plastic tube without bending.
Screw the lid of the plastic tube back on tightly and check it is on correctly.
That is it, well done.
Now you need to pack it up so it is ready for the courier to collect.
7. Pack up your test
An absorbent pad is a small piece of soft fabric.
Place the plastic tube and absorbent pad together into the leak-proof bag.
The leak-proof bag will have a barcode on it.
Let some air out of the bag.
Then take the strip off the top of the bag. There is a sticky area underneath.
Press the top of the bag together to close it.
Make up the cardboard box
First, fold the sides towards the centre.
Then, fold the bottom part of the lid towards the centre on top of the sides.
Put the bag inside your cardboard box.
Fold the top part of the lid and push it into the bottom part to close the box.
Tape it shut with the security seal.
That is it, well done. Now it is ready for the courier.
The courier will come between 8am and 4pm.
When the courier comes, open your door, place the return box outside and then close the door.
The courier will take your box to a test lab. If you missed your courier, call 0800 0511811.
8. Get your test results
You will not know the test results straight away. The courier will take your test to the lab for testing.
You must isolate until the day you go to hospital. You will have to wait for your test results. This may take up to 2 days.
You will get your test results by text. Your hospital will also get your results by email.
If the test is positive or unclear:
Call your hospital to talk about what to do next.
If the test is negative:
It means that the test did not find coronavirus. You need to continue isolating until you go to hospital.
For more information
If you have any questions about your coronavirus test, call:
0800 0511811 if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
0300 303 2713 if you live in Scotland
Lines are open 7am to 11pm every day.
If you feel worse, or you do not get better after 7 days:
— to www.gov.uk