How to get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms

Katherine Johnston (01 August, 2020)

If you have a new and continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change of taste and smell book a test ASAP

38087A 'track and trace' contact caseworker

Too many people don’t realise they can book a free COVID-19 test if they have symptoms, says Southwark Council. 

The local authority has joined others across London in an information campaign encouraging more people to get tested.

According to surveys, almost half of Londoners don’t know how to get a test if they – or anyone they know – are showing symptoms of COVID-19. 

A poll carried by YouGov for the Greater London Authority in June 2020 found that 46 per cent of Londoners don’t know how to get a test and 35 per cent know little or nothing about NHS Test and Trace. 

Londoners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those over 65 years of age, are least likely to know how to get a test.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “Lockdown measures are easing but it’s important to remember that this pandemic is far from over and the last thing we want to see, after everyone’s hard work to keep safe, is another spike in cases with residents suffering.

“Everyone should still be washing their hands regularly and wearing a mask on public transport and in shops – but it is also important that we are able to monitor and control any outbreaks. 

“This is why people need to get themselves tested if they show any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

“Doing so will help save lives, continue to protect our NHS and keep Southwark safe.”

Public Health England’s London regional director, Professor Kevin Fenton, echoed his comments and said although new infections are still ‘low’ in the capital, residents needed to be ‘vigilant’. 

He said: “Alongside our local partners, our health protection experts at PHE London have been working tirelessly to keep Londoners safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Importantly, Londoners have played a central role by following the government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings and practising good hand hygiene. 

“Thanks to this hard work, new cases of coronavirus in the city are low, but we must remain vigilant to keep London safe.

“We call on all Londoners to keep playing their part – if you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste, stay at home and arrange a test immediately and if needed, support the work of NHS Test and Trace. 

“All of this will help keep your local community, your borough and London as a city, a safe and healthy place to live.”

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test immediately, call 119 or visit It is important to get the test as soon as possible. 

Depending on when your symptoms started, you can either visit a number of testing centres – details will be provided for where is nearest to you – or have a kit sent to your home. Tests need to be booked in advance.

Symptoms include:

o   A high temperature

o   A new, continuous cough, or

o   A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

If NHS test and trace gets in touch to say you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, you must follow their instructions and stay at home for 14 days.


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