NHS Test and Trace service

The NHS Test and Trace service helps identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.


Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.

In this section

What is the NHS Test and Trace service?

Coronavirus testThe service allows people of all ages to check their symptoms, access a test and help identify people they came into close, recent contact with who may be most at risk of having caught the virus.

The success of the service - and our ability to return to a more normal life - relies on everyone playing their part and doing the right thing. 

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, high temperature or change in their sense of smell/taste is asked to immediately report these symptoms.

Book a coronavirus test

You can also book a test by calling 119. (Please do not call 111, which needs to be protected for people who are calling about other medical and health issues.)

You can find information for financial support for the Test and Trace payment scheme on our financial guidance pages.

Where the NHS Test and Trace service is unable to contact residents who have tested positive, the council's COVID-19 tracing service will try to make contact either by text, phone or email to capture information about the resident's activities in the days prior to their positive result.

If the council is unable to speak with the resident, officers will make a socially-distanced face-to-face visit to the address provided.

Read more about the council's COVID-19 tracing service

The Test and Trace app explained

Downloading the appThe NHS Test and Trace app is a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace service and it:

  • includes a built-in QR scanner for you to check in to venues, such as restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, quickly and easily
  • will notify you if you come into contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus
  • sends you an alert if you have visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus
  • allows you to check your symptoms (and book a test if needed)
  • provides a countdown timer to keep track of how long you need to self-isolate (if you who have been advised to do so by the app)
  • does not have access to your phone contacts or any other personal information held on your phone (your privacy and identity are secure)
  • will not track you or your location

Watch the BSL version of this video.

Every person who downloads the app will be helping to fight against coronavirus. The more of us who use the app, the quicker we can all get back to the things we love.

Download the app from the NHS website

For more information about the NHS COVID-19 app in other languages, visit the NHS information and resources web page.

Testing for essential workers

Essential workers who are self-isolating (because either they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms) can now be referred for testing by their employers.

Find out more about testing for essential workers

How NHS Test and Trace works 

Steps for someone with coronavirus symptoms 

  1. ISOLATE: As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you, anyone in your household and/or support bubble must self-isolate until you get your result.
  2. TEST: You should order a coronavirus test immediately at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test (this must be within the first 5 days of having symptoms). If you have no internet access, call 119. You can get a test: for yourself if you have coronavirus symptoms now; for someone you live with, if they have symptoms; if you have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example for surgery; or if you live, work or study in an area with a coronavirus outbreak. You can choose to take the test at a test site near you and get your result tomorrow, or you can take the test with a home test kit. For more information on what the test involves and how to get a test for someone else, visit www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
  3. RESULTS: If your test is positive, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days from when you started having symptoms. Anyone in your household and/or support bubble should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you can stop self-isolating as long as you are well.
  4. SHARE CONTACTS: If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours with instructions of how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our NHS contact tracers. 

Steps for someone who has been contacted because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus 

  1. ALERT: You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will come either by text or email and you'll need to log into the NHS Test and Trace website, which is the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other. Alternatively, a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do. Under-18s will receive a phone call and a parent/guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue. 
  2. ISOLATE: You will be asked to begin self-isolation for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive. It's really important to do this even if you don't feel unwell, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Your household doesn't need to self-isolate with you but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing hands. 
  3. TEST IF NEEDED: If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a coronavirus test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test . If you do not have internet access, call 119. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for 10 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period, because the virus may not be detectable yet.

Read more about Test and Trace

Testing centres in Hillingdon

To be effective, tests need to be done in the first 8 days from when symptoms started.

Find testing dates and locations in Hillingdon

The process for drive-through testing

How to take a coronavirus self-test swab

Page last updated: 13 Nov 2020