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Last updated: 29 March 2020 at 2pm

You can phone your GP to be assessed for a test in any of these situations.

If you are in a priority group and have:

  • fever and a cough, or
  • fever and shortness of breath (breathing difficulties)

If you are in a priority group and have been in contact with someone you think or know has coronavirus and you have any of these symptoms:

  • cough
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • body aches
  • tiredness

If you do not have a GP, any GP can arrange a test for you.

Phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone.

Do not ring GP out-of-hours services. They cannot arrange testing.

HSELive cannot order coronavirus tests. It is an information line only.

Priority groups

Priority groups for testing include people with specific symptoms of coronavirus who are also:

  • close contacts of a confirmed case 
  • healthcare workers who are in the frontline and have regular patient contact
  • those most at risk of severe infection such as people with diabetes, immunosuppressed, chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic renal disease, chronic liver disease and smokers
  • people who live with those in the above groups 
  • staff and residents of nursing homes and other residential care settings and those in direct provision, homeless, Roma and travelling community settings where symptom management is difficult
  • pregnant women to ensure they are managed safely in hospital

If your GP decides that you do not need to be tested

If your GP decides that you do not need to be tested, you will still be asked to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.

If your GP decides that you need to be tested

If your GP decides that you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you. You will need to self-isolate while you wait for your test. The people in your household will need to restrict their movements.

Make sure your GP has the correct mobile number for you. This is so we can contact you by text message with your test details.

Text confirmation

You will get a text message with the time and location of your test a few days after your GP arranges your test. The text will include a reference number. You will need to bring this to your appointment.

Your GP and HSELive do not have access to your reference number.

Delay in test appointments

Because of the high demand for testing there will be a delay between your GP arranging your test and your test appointment. We are sorry that you are waiting. But you are in a queue and you will be tested soon. Please continue to self-isolate

While you are waiting for your test, if your symptoms worsen, call your GP. If you have difficulty breathing or are feeling very unwell, call 112 or 999 and tell them about your symptoms.

Where you will have your test

You will either have your test:

Your test appointment will be confirmed by text message. The text will include details on where you should go and when.

Testing is by appointment only. Do not go to a test centre without an appointment - you will not be seen.

Before you are tested

While you wait for your test, you should behave as if you have the virus by self-isolating for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.

Treat your symptoms at home. Drink enough water to avoid dehydration - your pee should be light yellow or clear. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help with symptoms such as pain or fever.

Before taking any medication, read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. You should also follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.

If your symptoms get worse or are severe, phone your GP.

Test centre

There are 46 test centres nationwide. Most centres are in a building or clinic. Some offer a drive-through service.

Do not go to a test centre unless you have an appointment - you will not be seen.

  1. Park and remain in your car.
  2. A healthcare worker will approach you.
  3. You'll be given a mask to put on, they will explain to you what will happen, ask you some questions and you'll be taken into the test centre.
  4. You'll be asked to wash your hands properly.
  5. Healthcare staff will take some personal details from you - this is so we can contact you with your results.
  6. You'll be asked to blow your nose into a tissue and bin it in a secure bin.
  7. A healthcare worker will take a sample from inside your mouth and nose using a swab. This will be sent to a lab for testing.
  8. You will then need to drive home and remain in self-isolation.

Drive-thru test centre

Some test centres offer a drive-thru service. You can drive yourself if you feel well enough. If not, someone else can drive you. If you have a child who has an appointment to be tested, you can drive them.

Do not go to a drive-thru test centre unless you are in a car and have an appointment - you will not be seen otherwise.

  1. Drive to the centre.
  2. Stay in your car at all times.
  3. Follow the signs and the directions of staff.
  4. A healthcare worker will ask you to open your window.
  5. You'll be given a mask to put on your face, covering both your nose and mouth.
  6. They'll direct you to a test bay to take your test sample - do not get out of car.
  7. One healthcare worker will take your personal details - this is so we can contact you with your results.
  8. Another will take two swabs from inside your mouth and nose.
  9. You will then need to drive home and remain in self-isolation.

Testing in your home

If you cannot attend a test centre, you may be tested at home.

  1. A healthcare worker will call to your home with a testing kit.
  2. They will use a swab to take a sample from inside your mouth and nose.
  3. You will be asked to give them some personal details - this is so we can contact you with your results.

Test results

Your test sample will go to one of our labs for testing.

You will get your test results either by text or phone.

If your test is negative, you will get a text message from the testing service.

If it is positive, a member of the public health team will phone you. They will ask you about people you have been in contact with. This is called contact tracing.

When you'll get your results

You may be waiting a number of days for your test result. Most patients will get their results within about 5 days.

Patients who are most ill and in hospital are being prioritised so that they can get their results in 12 to 24 hours.

Continue to self-isolate while waiting for your test result.

Do not go to or phone your GP for test results. It is important that their phone lines are kept open for people who need help with symptoms.