Coronavirus information

Test and trace

If you have coronavirus symptoms

Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature of a change in their sense of smell or taste should immediately self-isolate and order a test.

You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms. Do not wait. Ask for the test as soon as you have symptoms.

As soon as you develop symptoms:

  • Self-isolate for at least 7 days - this applies to everyone, even if you have already had the virus. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
  • Test - report these symptoms and book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
  • You can ask for a test of someone you live with, including children of all ages, if they have coronavirus symptoms. 
  • If you are an essential worker or live with an essential worker, including NHS or social care staff, are asking for tests for the residents and staff of a care home, or have a verification code from your employer, you need can book at test at www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers.


The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat. When you order a test, you will get information on the options available.

The different ways you can get tested are:

  • book a visit to a drive-through regional testing site
  • order a home testing kit delivered to your door. You can test yourself and your family without leaving your house. You will need to swab your children if they are under 11.

Video on home testing

There is high demand for tests at the moment. There is more information at www.nhs.uk/contact-us/get-help-with-asking-for-a-coronavirus-test.


You should get your test results within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test.

If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 7 day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.

Share contacts

If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will contact you by phone, text or email within 24 hours with instructions on how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with, and places you have visited.

It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that the other people can be contacted. You will be asked to do this on a secure website or by phone with an NHS contract tracer.

Find out more at www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works


The information you give will be confidential and will only be used by NHS Test and Trace service to contain the virus. It will not be shared with other bodies.

Even if you have not self-isolated or obeyed social distancing, the information you give will not be shared.

Isolating when you live with a vulnerable person

Where possible, people who are self-isolating should not share a household with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and is shielding. If you live with someone higher risk from coronavirus, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days.


If you have to stay in the same home together, read about how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with - www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/how-to-avoid-spreading-coronavirus-to-people-you-live-with/

If you have been specifically asked to isolate by the Test and Trace service, the guidance is slightly different from above.

If the Test and Trace service contact you

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive: 

  • Alert: The alert will come either by text or email, and you'll need to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website or a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do. Under 18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue
  • Isolate: You will be asked to being self-isolation for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive (this applies to everyone, even if you have already had the virus). It's really important to do this even if you don't feel unwell, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. If you don't have symptoms, your household doesn't need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing their hands. You should try to avoid contact with them as much as possible.
  • Do not leave your home for any reason - if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends or family to drop it off at your home. You can also request support from the One Reading Community Hub if you have no access to any other support.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family - except for essential care.
  • If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household should immediately begin to self-isolate at home for 14 days and you should book a coronavirus test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. If your test is positive you must continue to stay at home for 7 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable. Your household no longer needs to isolate unless one of you develops symptoms.

Isolation support

  • If it is possible for you to work from home, then you should do so
  • If you unable to work, Statutory Sick Pay is available to employees who have been contacted by the Test and Trace service as they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.
  • If you cannot work from home while you are self-isolating, you may also be entitled to Employment Support Allowance
  • Some employers may also apply their own sickness policies and continue to offer full pay for all or some of your isolation period.
  • You may also be able to claim a grant through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme

Council advice on further financial advice

Evidence self-isolating

The NHS Test and Trace service will provide a notification that can be used as evidence you have been told to self-isolate. If you are self-isolating because you have symptoms of coronavirus or live with someone who has symptoms, you can get an isolation note through NHS111 online.

Support with isolation and loneliness

Engage Befriending - 

is a local charity which links people who are isolated with a befriending volunteer. Normally, they support older people, but they recognise that some younger people may need help to combat loneliness at this time. Call 0118 9567 000 and press option 2.

Our advice and support page 

Avoiding fraudulent calls from fake contact tracers

Text messages will come from the NHS. Calls will come from 0300 0135000.

The NHS Test and Trace service will not:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you do not wish to talk over the phone, NHS Test and Trace service can offer to send an email or text instead inviting you to log into a web-based service.

When to get in touch with Reading Borough Council

Contact the council via cv19notifications@reading.gov.uk or 0118 937 2707:

  • if you have been contacted about being a COVID-19 case or contact, and are not sure what to do
  • if you think there are cases in your workplace, school, organisation or other setting

If you have symptoms, stay home and contact NHS Test and Trace to arrange testing at www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call 119. The phoneline will be open between 8am and 5pm on weekdays. Emails will be monitored between 8am and 5pm, 7 days a week. 

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