PCR testing is the most reliable way of diagnosing COVID-19. It is the main type of test that we use.
Private companies can offer other types of tests. We do not recommend or endorse any particular test provider.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate immediately. Call your GP and they can arrange a free COVID-19 test.
This is the most reliable COVID-19 test available because it looks at the genetic material of the virus. It is done in a lab and is a very reliable way of knowing if you are currently infected with COVID-19.
If you get a PCR test from a private company and you test positive for COVID-19, the lab has to report this to the HSE. This means that your close contacts can be contacted by contact tracing.
Antigen testing is quicker but less reliable than PCR testing. This type of test does not have to be done in a lab.
If your antigen test is positive
If you get an antigen test from a private company and you test positive for COVID-19, the lab will not report this to the HSE. This means that your close contacts will not be informed and could spread COVID-19 to others.
If you test positive, you should self-isolate and call your GP. They will arrange for you to get a free PCR test.
You will need to show your GP proof of your COVID-19 test result.
This can be a:
- text message
- printed report
If your test is negative but you have symptoms
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate, even if your antigen test result is negative. Call your GP and they will arrange for you to get a free PCR test.
If you're a close contact
If you are a close contact, you should continue to restrict your movements even if your test result is negative. Restrict your movements for 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Antibody tests check for antibodies to see if you had an infection with the virus in the past. This test requires a blood sample. The HSE does not currently offer these tests.
Last updated: 27 January 2021 at 11.20am