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Last updated: 17 July 2020 at 11.35am

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, phone HSELive on 1850 24 1850. This number is for the Republic of Ireland only. Visit NHS.uk for information about UK test results.

HSELive is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The HSELive team will:

  • take your details
  • search for your test in our database
  • get back to you with your result

This search is usually done within 24 hours, but it can take longer.

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 14 days since you first developed symptoms

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

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.

They’ll ask you for the name and contact details of anyone you’ve been in close contact with in the last 14 days. This is so they can let those people know that they will also need to self-isolate.

This is called contact tracing. It can help slow the spread of the virus.

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 for the last 14 days. 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 14 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.

This 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 and:

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

You could still get coronavirus in the future. You should continue to follow the advice to protect yourself and others.

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

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 14 days since you first developed symptoms
  • you have had no fever for 5 days

If your new test result comes back as 'SARS CoV 2 RNA detected' you will continue to self-isolate for 14 days. A member of the public health team will call you. They'll ask you for the contact details of anyone you’ve been in close contact with in the last 14 days. This is so they can let those people know that they will also need to self-isolate.

If your new test result comes back as 'SARS CoV 2 RNA not detected', and you have no symptoms, you can come out of self-isolation. Continue to follow the advice to protect yourself and others. But if you are a close contact of a confirmed case you should continue to restrict your movements for 14 days. This is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.

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