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Last updated: 18 September 2020 at 3.55pm

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

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

When you'll get your results

Most people will get their test results back within 3 days, but it can take longer.

Continue to self-isolate while you wait for your results. Follow any advice your GP gives you.

Patients who are most ill and in hospital are being prioritised. They will get their results within 12 to 24 hours.

If you have not received your test results

If you have been waiting longer than 3 days for your test result please complete this form and we will call you back with your results within 24 to 48 hours.

Do not contact your GP for test results. Their phone lines need to be kept open for people who need help with symptoms.

If you have not received your test results you can stop self-isolating if both these apply:

  • you have had no fever for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms

If you were tested because you were a close contact, you can stop restricting your movements if you have completed 14 days since your last contact with the confirmed case.

What your results mean

Your test results will be either:

  • SARS CoV 2 RNA detected
  • SARS CoV 2 RNA not detected
  • Indeterminate result
  • Invalid/inhibitory result

Read advice for children under the age of 13 who have been tested

SARS CoV 2 RNA detected

This means you have coronavirus (COVID-19).

A member of the public health team will phone you with your result. They’ll answer any questions you have.

If you have had symptoms, they will ask about people and places you have visited 48 hours before your symptoms started and until you started self-isolating.

This is so they can let those people know that they will need to restrict their movements. This is called contact tracing. It can help slow the spread of the virus.

If you have not had symptoms but tested positive, they will only ask about people and places you have visited 24 hours before your test took place and until you started self-isolating.

They will also ask you if you have been using the COVID Tracker app. If you have, they’ll ask if you want to alert others you were in close contact with. This is done anonymously, through the app. It’s your choice if you want to do this. Read more about the COVID Tracker app.

You’ll need to continue to self-isolate until both of these apply:

  • you have had no fever for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms

SARS CoV 2 RNA not detected

This means that coronavirus (COVID-19) has not been found in your sample. You will get your result by text message from the testing service.

If you were tested because you had symptoms of coronavirus, you should continue to self-isolate until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours. You can return to your normal activities once you are 48 hours without symptoms. 

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

If you were tested because you are a close contact and have no symptoms, you should continue to restrict your movements for 14 days. Even though your test result is 'not detected' (negative), you could still have the virus. It can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.

A 'not-detected' result does not mean that you never had coronavirus. It just means that the virus was not found in the sample the lab tested.

It’s possible that you had the virus. But that:

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

Indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result

Sometimes your 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 coronavirus or not.

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

Indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory results are not common.

If you get an indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result

If you get an indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory result you will be treated as if you have the virus. This is to keep you and others safe because you had symptoms. You should ask your GP to arrange a new test for coronavirus for you.

Until you get your new result, you will need to continue to self-isolate until both of these apply:

  • it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms
  • you have had no fever for 5 days

Follow the advice if your new test result comes back as:

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

No evidence of immunity

Some studies have shown that antibodies develop soon after infection. These have been detected for at least two months after infection. But because it is a new virus, there is no long-term evidence that having coronavirus means you are immune to getting it again.

You may still be:

  • at risk of getting re-infected
  • able to pass the infection to others

Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app