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If your test is negative, you’ll get a text message to say that the test did not detect COVID-19. This means that the virus was not found in your sample.

A negative result does not mean that you’ve never had COVID-19.

It’s possible that you had the virus, but that:

  • your immune system cleared it by the time you were tested
  • there was no virus present in the sample taken

When you can stop self-isolating

If you were tested because you have symptoms of COVID-19, restrict your movements (stay at home) until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours. This is because you may have another infectious illness, such as flu.

You can return to your normal activities once you are 48 hours without symptoms. This includes going to work or school.

If your symptoms continue or get worse, phone your GP.

Young children can often have a persistent cold. Children with a blocked or runny nose, mild cough but no fever can attend school or childcare after 48 hours. They can do this even if they still have symptoms as long as they do not need paracetamol or ibuprofen for their symptoms. These medicines can hide a temperature.

Find a GP

Find a GP out-of-hours

The people you live with

The people you live with no longer need to restrict their movements. They should continue to follow the advice to protect yourself and others.

If you have no symptoms, are a close contact and test negative

If you have no symptoms and were tested because you are a close contact, continue to restrict your movements for 14 days.

Do this from the last date you were in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. If you’re not sure when that was, restrict your movements until the date you were told by contact tracing.

Second tests

Close contacts who get a negative result sometimes need to have a second test. This is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it. Even though your test result is negative, you could still have the virus.

A contact tracer will tell you if you need a second test.

Read more about second tests for close contacts

Related topics

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Returning to work safely

Face coverings, medical masks and disposable gloves

Last updated: 20 November at 3.35pm

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