Testing for coronavirus

Anyone in the UK can now be tested to see if they have Covid-19 -- from lateral-flow self-test kits for people without symptoms to laboratory analysed PCR tests if you think you've got coronavirus. Antibody tests are available for certain groups.
holding a coronavirus test
Information correct as of 20 September 2021

Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus 

If you have any of these three main coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms, even if mild, you should get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test as soon as possible:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed

You can also get a test to check if you have coronavirus if: 

  • You’ve been asked to get a test by a local council or someone from NHS Test and Trace
  • You’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • You’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • You’ve received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
  • You need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
  • You’re in the National Tactical Response Group

You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site.

If you have symptoms, self-isolate straight away until you get your results.

Do not leave home, except to post a test kit or for a PCR test appointment. Check if the people you live with need to self-isolate on NHS.UK.

How to book a test

There are two ways of getting a test. You can:

Book an appointment at a local drive-through or walk through test site. You must book a test before you visit any test site. 

Or ask for a home test kit which will be delivered to your home. This needs to be done and returned within 48 hours.

If you are eligible for testing but don't have internet, you can call 119. The Testing Call Centre is open from 7am to 11pm and can be accessed by people with speech or language difficulties as well as by people whose first language isn't English.

Getting a rapid lateral flow test if you have no symptoms

Everyone in Cambridgeshire can now get free, regular rapid lateral flow tests to check they don't have coronavirus. 

And all local people without symptoms are being urged to take two tests a week to help keep cases low and protect the people in their community. 

They give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

One in three people with Covid-19 don't have any symptoms and can spread the virus without knowing.

Where to get the rapid tests 

You can get tested at council-run community testing sites or collect home-testing kits from pharmacies and NHS Test and Trace sites. Or order online for home delivery.

Workplaces, schools and colleges are also testing on site.

If you test at home

You must register your results online or by calling 119. 

If the result is positive you and anyone you live with (unless exempt through double-vaccination or being under 18 years 6 months) should self-isolate immediately. You must also get a second, lab, test to confirm the result.

More information

Full details of local testing sites, how to book a test, take one at home, order testing kits and questions and answers on rapid testing are on Cambridgeshire County Council’s website below.

Read more

Antibody testing

An antibody test is a blood test to check if you’ve had coronavirus (Covid-19) before or been vaccinated.

This test does not say if you currently have Covid-19. And is only available to certain groups. 

People booking a PCR test for Covid-19 will be given the option to take part in antibody testing. Up to 8,000 people a day will get the opportunity to be tested. 

You can also register for a free antibody test if you:

  • you’re 18 or over and you work in paid adult social care.
  • you're taking part in research into antibody levels

If you receive a positive antibody result it does not mean that you’re immune, or that you cannot pass on the virus to others. It also does not mean that you can ignore social distancing measures.

Find out more

Test and Trace service

Find out about what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.


Local contact tracing

Cambridgeshire County Council, and the five district and city councils in Cambridgeshire are working closely with NHS Test and Trace to contact people who have tested positive for Covid-19, giving them help, advice and support to self-isolate, in a further bid to crack down on the pandemic.

Anyone who is concerned by being contacted can call the council or local community hub to check the identity of the tracer on 0345 045 5219.


Test and Trace support payment

A one-off £500 support payment is offered to some people on lower incomes to help make up for any lost pay due to staying home to self isolate.

From 16th  August 2021, fully-vaccinated adults and those under 18 years and 6 months no longer need to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested postive for Covid-19. 

Although you’ll still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive, or if you have symptoms.

So if you are exempt and are notified on or after 16th August 2021, you will not be eligible for the self-Isolation payment.

Read more about the payment scheme - extended until March 2022 - and how to apply online on your city or district council's website.

Not eligible?  Apply to the County Hub

If you are not eligible for the payment, you can apply to the County Hub for local support of up to £500 if you are facing hardship because you need to self-isolate.

Email communitycv@cambridgeshire.gov.uk 

Tell us about your experience of care 

NHS and social care staff are doing everything they can to keep us well during these challenging times, but there may be things that could be improved.

Your feedback can help services spot issues that are affecting care for you and your loved ones. 

Share your experience

NHS Covid-19 App

This smartphone app is now available to download. It uses Apple and Google's automated contact-tracing technology. 

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, information on local area restrictions and venue check-ins.

More details: https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/


Where to get a private Covid test

The Department of Health and Social Care has a list of private (non-NHS) providers that can carry out tests to detect if you have coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

You must pay for these tests yourself.

These providers – listed in alphabetical order – have declared that they meet the Government’s minimum standards for providers.

However, they not endorsed or recommended by the Government and you should research them yourself.

There are two lists:

  • Test to Release for international travel
  • Domestic Covid-19 testing

Read more

Find out more

Cambridgeshire County Council have published some useful information about how Test and Trace works locally. And what their plan is to manage local outbreaks of Covid-19. 

How services are changing because of Covid 19

Read our advice and guidance on coronavirus and find out how services are changing to meet people's needs. 

Find out more