Symptomatic testing

What to do if you have symptoms.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should immediately self-isolate and arrange to have a test. 

Tests must be ordered within the first five days and are most effective within three days of symptoms developing.

You do not need to get a test for anyone else in a household unless they also have any of the three symptoms listed below. All members of the household need to self-isolate while waiting for your result.

If your test comes back positive, you must continue to self-isolate for the full ten days from the onset of symptoms. Other members of the household should continue self-isolating for ten days and only get a test if they develop coronavirus symptoms. Tests are not suitable for children under five.

Contacts of a person who has tested positive must follow the guidance carefully and in full, which means they must also stay at home for ten days. This is because it can take several days following contact with an infected person before an individual develops symptoms or the virus can be detected.

More information can be found in the NHS guidance on self-isolating. For more information about not leaving your home because you have or might have coronavirus see Self-isolating and support.

Getting tested

You can phone 119 or book a free test online. Tests are only available with a pre-booked appointment.

You will be advised on your nearest available testing site when booking.

Testing in West Sussex is available at the regional testing sites at Gatwick and Tangmere and at mobile testing units, which visit locations across the county.

Those unable to travel can order home test kits.

Guidance for key workers, care home residents and workers is available on GOV.UK's Coronavirus (COVID-19: getting tested.

Watch our video to see what it’s like to get tested for COVID-19 in West Sussex.

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Further information is available on GOV.UK's Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus.


The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.


The following documents provide these key messages in another language.


The following translated videos will help you to spot the signs of coronavirus.

Last updated:
10 June 2021
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