As of May 18 2020, everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test.
- Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
- 21,000 contact tracers in England have now been recruited.
The expansion in testing eligibility comes after all four UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed that anosmia has been added as a symptom of COVID-19. Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell, and it can also affect your sense of taste.
This means people should self-isolate immediately if they have:
- a new, continuous cough
- a high temperature, or
- a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste
All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
The extension in testing eligibility comes ahead of the rollout of the new test and trace service and is possible thanks to increased testing capacity across the country as the government expands total testing capacity towards 200,000 tests a day.
The government has more than doubled the capacity of the NHS/Public Health England (PHE) laboratory network, set up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introduced home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories.
The number of tests available for the general population will increase as capacity continues to expand.
Anyone in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland experiencing a new, continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.
A team of PHE public health professionals, linking with the local government sector and other partners, will oversee the contact tracing workforce as well as continuing to manage complex cases.
PHE is working with local government colleagues including the Association of Directors of Public Health, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, Local Government Association and UK Chief Environmental Health Officers on this part of the test and trace service.
NHS Professionals, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Business Services Authority are key partners in delivery of the model helping with recruitment, logistics and integration of the various elements of the service.