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Sometimes a test sample may not give a clear result. This is called an indeterminate result. An indeterminate result means that the lab cannot tell for sure if you have COVID-19 (coronavirus) or not.

Sometimes the lab will be unable to get any result when they test your sample. This is called an invalid or inhibitory result.

Indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory results are not common.

If you have symptoms and get an indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result

If you have symptoms and get an indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result you should behave as if you have the virus. This is to keep you and others safe.

Phone your GP and ask them if you need to be tested again. It will depend on when you first developed symptoms and what symptoms you currently have.  

Continue to self-isolate until both of these apply:

  • you have not had a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher) for 5 days in a row
  • it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms

Read what you should do if you are caring for someone who can't self-isolate

What the people you live with need to do 

If you have symptoms, the people in your household should restrict their movements. This is because they may have COVID-19 too.

They need to avoid contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. 

Read more about how to restrict your movements

If you have no symptoms, are a close contact and get an indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result

If you were tested because you were a close contact, continue to restrict your movements for 14 days. Do this from the last date you were in contact with that person. If you’re not sure when that was, restrict your movements until the date you were told by contact tracing.

Phone your GP and ask them if you need to be tested again. Tell them that you were tested because you are a close contact but the result came back as indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory. It will depend on how long it has been since your last contact with the confirmed case and if you have developed any symptoms.

The people you live with

If you have no symptoms, the people you live with do not have to restrict their movements or get a COVID-19 test. They should continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others.

How to cope with self-isolation

Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a garden, backyard or balcony, go out and get some fresh air.

Read more about how to keep well during self-isolation

Related topics

If you live with other people and are self-isolating

Treat COVID-19 symptoms at home

Eating well while recovering from COVID-19

Last updated: 17 November at 11.05am

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