Testing - Public Health Dorset


Information on testing


Which test should I use?

There are different tests you can get to check if you have COVID-19. The two main tests are:

PCR test - these are for people that have COVID-19 symptoms and are sent off to a lab to be checked for the result. You should also get a PCR test if you are living in the same household as someone with COVID-19 symptoms, or with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 by LFD or PCR test. 

Rapid lateral flow tests – these are for people who do not have symptoms and they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test and do not need to be sent to a lab.

Remember to report your COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result within 24 hours, even if it's negative: Report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Getting a PCR test if you have symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you should stay home and order a PCR test. These symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • A continuous cough 
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site. If you go to a walk-in or drive-through test site, you must book an appointment beforehand and cannot turn up to the site without an appointment. 


Lateral flow tests

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still pass the virus onto others.

You should do regular rapid lateral flow tests, particularly on days when you're more likely to catch or spread COVID-19. This will include mixing with others in crowded indoor places and going to visit someone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.


How to get a lateral flow test

You can get rapid lateral flow test kits sent to your home.

You can also pick up tests from a local pharmacy. In order to get a test from a pharmacy, you need a pharmacy collect code when you pick up the tests. 


What to do if you're a close contact

If NHS Test and Trace contact you to tell you that you're a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay at home and self-isolate unless you are either fully vaccinated, under 18 years of age, part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial or medical reasons mean you're not able to get vaccinated.

If you're not legally required to self-isolate, you are strongly advised to take daily lateral flow (LFD) tests for seven days, and report test results on GOV.UK, even if they are negative. Further guidance is available for contacts who are not legally required to self-isolate.

If you're a contact of a COVID-19 case and you're over 18 but not fully vaccinated, you are legally required to self-isolate for 10 full days from the date of exposure to the virus. You should also take a PCR test. Further guidance on close contacts who are not fully vaccinated is available on the government website.


Advice for close contacts who live in the same household

If you live in the same household as a person who has COVID-19, follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19.





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