Covid-19 testing

Updated 5 June 2020

Testing is available if you have symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19). This helps to prevent the spread of the virus and enables you to return to work from self-isolation if you are clear of the virus and are well enough.

When to apply for a test

Apply within the first three days of having symptoms. The test is best taken within five days of symptoms starting.

Coronavirus symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste

The test allows you to find out whether you or members of your household currently have coronavirus. It is not an antibody test to identify if someone has had or is immune to the virus.

Apply for a test if you’re an essential worker

The following groups of people can access priority testing through

  • essential workers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • anyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over 5 years old who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with an essential worker
  • children under 5 years old in England and Wales who have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker (this test must be performed by a parent or guardian).

See the guidance on testing for essential workers and the list of essential workers (this list includes social care staff, care home staff, personal care assistants, local and national government staff critical to the effective delivery of the coronavirus response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, frontline local authority staff and volunteers, etc).

Tests for essential workers are prioritised over the tests available for the wider public through the NHS.

Managers can currently also access the NHS Sussex Booking Hub to book tests for their staff and household members of staff. In addition to the nationally-run sites, the hub also offers appointments at locally-run sites in Bexhill and Bognor. For symptomatic essential workers who are unable to travel, home tests are also available from community testing vehicles.

At present, this wider range of options is not available via the national website and can only be accessed through the Sussex Booking Hub.

How to access the NHS Sussex Booking Hub - essential workers and their household members only

Email with the following details:

  • full name of person(s) to be tested
  • date symptoms started
  • do they have a car, and if so their vehicle registration number
  • full name of essential worker (if different from person(s) to be tested)
  • email and/or mobile number for confirmation of booking and test results.

The Sussex Booking Hub will contact the person being tested directly to confirm the date, time and location of the test.

Apply for a coronavirus test if you’re not an essential worker

There’s a different way to ask for a test if you’re not an essential worker or do not live with one. This is through the NHS website.

The following group of people can ask for a test through the NHS website:

  • anyone in England and Wales who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age.

Applying for a test on behalf of someone else

If you’re applying for someone else and they’re aged 13 and over, you must check that they are happy for you to apply for them.

Getting your test once your appointment is booked

Tests for those who can travel will be at drive-through sites. In Sussex, these are at Gatwick and Brighton Amex Stadium. Please do not contact testing sites directly to request an appointment or turn up without a pre-booked appointment.

If you’re unable to travel, you can order a home testing kit.

Care home staff and residents

New suspected outbreaks should be reported to local Health Protection Teams as usual for testing and infection control support.

For residents and staff without symptoms, care home managers can request testing kits from the national website. At present, these are prioritised for homes that care for older people or those with dementia. This is being expanded to include other adult social care settings over the coming weeks.

Get the latest guidance and to arrange tests.

Please email for advice on testing of essential workers in care homes.

Test results

If a member of staff tests negative, they can return to work as long as:

  • they’re well enough
  • they have not had a high temperature for 48 hours
  • other members of their household have also tested negative and are not symptomatic.

If a member of staff is self-isolating because a member of their household is unwell, the member of staff can return to work without being tested, as long as the household member tests negative.

If they receive an inconclusive/void result they should remain in self-isolation and inform their manager. The manager can then discuss the result with the Wellbeing Manager in HROD.

In the event of a positive test result, or if other household members test positive, the member of staff cannot return to work and will need to continue self-isolating. Read NHS advice about how long to self-isolate.

If you haven’t received your results 72 hours after being tested at the drive-through sites, please call the coronavirus testing line on 0300 303 2713.

If symptoms worsen or do not get better after 7 days, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Please see for further information regarding testing.

NHS Test and Trace

For more details, please visit the Government’s NHS test and trace: how it works guidance.