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Last updated: 06 July 2020 at 11.20am

You may need to be assessed for a coronavirus test if you are in one of these situations:


You suddenly experience one of these symptoms and there is no other obvious cause:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate to stop the spread of coronavirus. Phone your GP straightaway to discuss your symptoms and whether you need a test for coronavirus. Getting an early diagnosis means you can get the help you need and take steps to avoid spreading the virus, if you have it.


If you are a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus, you will be phoned by the contact tracing team. They will arrange a test for you. You will be tested even if you do not have symptoms.

Read more about restricted movements close contacts.

GP assessment

Your test and GP assessment will be free of charge.

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

If you don't have a GP, any GP can arrange a test for you.

The GP out-of-hours services can also arrange testing.

Your GP may refer you to a coronavirus community assessment hub.

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

Find contact details for your local GP.

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.

Read more about restricted 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. Your test details will be sent to you by text message.

Having a test is important if your GP decides you need one. It can help you find out if you have coronavirus and what steps you should take to avoid spreading the virus to someone else.

It can also help us to understand how far the virus is spreading and to plan for extra demand on health services.

Text confirmation

You will get a text message with the time and location of 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.

If your symptoms get worse

Phone your GP if your symptoms get worse while you are waiting for your test.

If you have difficulty breathing or are feeling very unwell, call 112 or 999 and tell them about your symptoms.

Cancelling a test appointment

You can cancel your test appointment using the text message you received with your test details.

To cancel your test

  1. Open the text message.
  2. Click on the link 'for more information...'
  3. You will be brought to a web page with your appointment details.
  4. Click on the link 'Cancel Appointment'.

Where you will have your test

You will either have your test:

  • at a community test centre - some test centres are drive-thru
  • in your home

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.

Read more about what happens during a test.

Limitations of testing for coronavirus

No test is 100% accurate. All tests have limitations. This is the same with the test for coronavirus.

The test will find the virus in most people who have symptoms. But in some cases it may not pick up that you have the virus.

Some test samples may go missing or we may be unable to identify a patient. This can happen in a very small number of cases due to human error. All steps are taken to prevent this and every effort is made to trace samples to patients.

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.

Bring your phone

Bring your phone with you to the test centre or drive-thru test centre.

If a Garda stops you on your way to a test centre, show them the text message with your appointment information. Do not open your window. Hold your phone up to the window to show the garda your appointment details.

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