United Kingdom

How long does the Covid test take?

Coronavirus tests are now widely available (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic there was widespread fear as the limited number of tests meant that no one knew if their sniffly nose was a cold or a lethal disease.

However, flash forward to September and the UK is benefiting from hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests per day.

If you, or anyone in your household, are experiencing any covid symptoms, then the NHS and the government advise you get tested asap.

But how long does the Covid test take, and when can you expect to know the results?

How long does the Covid test take?

The test itself is very quick and is done through swabs, either administered by yourself at home (or someone in your household), or a medical professional.

One swab will be put right in the back of your throat, and another will be placed inside both nostrils.

The swab will be placed far back in the upper respiratory tract – which includes the nasal cavity right at the back of the nose, and where it meets the throat.

The test involves swabs in the throat and nose (Picture: PA)

Doesn’t sound pleasant, does it?

How long do I have to wait to get the coronavirus results back?

The Government website states: ‘We aim to return test results within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test’.

However, due to the high number of people taking the tests, some experience some delays in awaiting the result.

If you are waiting for your results to return and are experiencing covid symptoms then please remain in your house.

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How do I get a Covid test?

Anyone with the following symptoms can get a test:

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

You simply apply for a test on the government website.

The NHS advise that you get tested within five days of showing symptoms.

Covid tests can be done from a testing centre or at home (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Where can I get tested?

Where you get tested depends on a few factors. It can either be at home or at a test site.

On days one to four of your symptoms, you can get tested at a site or at home.

On day five, you need to go to a test site. It’s too late to order a home test kit.

When applying for a test, you will be asked for your location and if you have access to a car. If you can drive/be driven to a test site near you then that will be your only option. You will have to stay in your vehicle for the duration of the test, and will (hopefully) receive your results the next day.

If not, then you will receive a free at home testing kit, and will receive your results in a few days (allow time for posting).

MORE: Push to get workers back in the office ‘puts coronavirus testing at risk’

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