Previously, swab testing was only available to those working in the NHS suffering from symptoms, but now it has been expanded to cover more groups. The list of people who can get tested includes all essential workers, anyone over 65 with symptoms, and anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home. The full list of those eligible for tests can be found here.
There are a number of ways people can access the test. If you are on the list, you can apply for a test directly using this new online service. The Government advises that home test kit availability will be initially limited, which is confirmed by reports that there are currently not enough home-testing kits to meet the demand. Home-testing kits can be delivered to your door so you can test yourself and your family without leaving the house. You will receive your test results by text message or email. Please note that testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing. If you have been delivered a home-testing kit, watch this video on how to do the test.
Those who cannot get home-testing kits can book a test slot at a drive-through centre. The drive-through network aims to provide thousands of swab tests, and more than 40 regional testing centres were made available for the public on April 28th. You can book your drive-through test using this online service. When you arrive at your test location, you will need to show your appointment booking. When it’s your turn, you will drive up to the testing area staying in your vehicle, and a tester will come to your car window and take a swab from the inside of your mouth and nose. The swab is then sent for analysis.
In addition to the self-referral route, essential workers who are self-isolating can be referred for testing by their employers. Referrals can be made through a secure portal, where employers upload the names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers. In order to obtain a login to the secure portal, employers should email email@example.com providing details such as the organisation name, nature of business, region etc. If referred through the portal, essential workers receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test at a regional testing site.