Coronavirus testing: how long does it take and how long do you have to wait for your results?

December 27, 2021
Written by
Edward Heywood
Coronavirus testing: how long does it take and how long do you have to wait for your results?

When you book a coronavirus test, you want to be seen as soon as possible and get your results in quick-time, too.

Fast results are ideal, both from a personal and a public health perspective. But what is the coronavirus test turnaround time? And when can you realistically expect your results?

That all depends upon where and how you get tested, as we explain below.

Option 1: The NHS PCR swab test

If you currently have symptoms associated with the virus (a temperature, a continuous cough or a loss of taste or smell), you can book an NHS coronavirus test. You can also book an NHS test if you’ve been asked to do so by your local council or a hospital.

The NHS coronavirus test is used to find out if you are/were infected with Covid-19 at the time that a sample is taken.

You can book an NHS test by visiting the government website and selecting from the following locations:

Visiting an NHS regional testing site

Via the .GOV website, you’ll be able to book a 30 minute slot to visit your nearest regional testing site. Usually, there’s availability for the following day and the test sites are open 7 days a week.

Some testing sites are drive-through. At these sites, you will arrive in your car, and then be given a self-swab coronavirus test kit. You will conduct the test in the site car park, before sealing it and returning it to staff. It will then be sent away to a lab.

At other sites, a healthcare professional will conduct the test. Again, the test will be sent away to a lab before you receive your results.

Taking an NHS test at home

If you can’t get to a regional testing site — or the time slots are inconvenient for you — you can request a self-swab kit to be sent to your home.

It’s crucial that you take an NHS home test less than a week after you first experience symptoms of coronavirus. This allows for the time it takes to return a test by post.

What is the NHS coronavirus test turnaround time?

NHS results are sent by email and/or by text.

  • For tests done at testing sites, you should get your results within 48 hours.

  • For self-swab tests done at home, you should get your results within 72 hours.

However, as we’ve seen already, demand for NHS tests sometimes outstrips supply. This means it can take longer than expected for your results to arrive.

Option 2: Private coronavirus tests with Corona Test Centre

Private coronavirus tests are always an option, too.

You can book a private coronavirus test through a private clinic website, like Corona Test Centre, or you can give their reception team a call.

It’s really easy to get a private test. Private clinics generally have much better availability than NHS testing sites. They also offer testing for people who are currently asymptomatic (i.e. are not showing symptoms).

What’s more, private clinics will usually offer other coronavirus test options, in addition to the standard PCR test. The private tests available at Corona Test Centre are:

PCR Test

The PCR test is the same test that’s offered by the NHS. It is used to find out if you currently have coronavirus.

During this test, a swab sample is taken from your nose and throat.

Because it is 99.9% accurate, the PCR test can be used to issue ‘Fit to Fly’ travel certificates.

Antigen Test

This test uses a swab of your nose to confirm if you currently have Covid-19.

The antigen test offers fast results (which we’ll touch on shortly), but it isn’t suitable if you need a travel certificate.

Antibody Test

The antibody test tells you if you’ve already had Covid-19 and developed antibodies. A blood sample is taken and then tested in the lab.

The PCR test, the antigen test and the antibody test are all very quick to do. Your appointment shouldn’t take any longer than ten minutes. And Corona Test Centre clinics are conveniently located in Hammersmith, Fulham and Victoria in London.

What is the private coronavirus test turnaround time?

At Corona Test Centre, samples are analysed 7 days a week — so you’ll never be left waiting around for your results. All results are sent via email.

  • Results for the PCR Test are available at 6pm either 1 or 2 days after your appointment.

  • Your antigen results will be with you at 10pm on the same day you took your test.

  • When you take a Corona Test Centre Antibody Test, your results will also be with you at 10pm the same day.

Understanding your test results

Whether you take a coronavirus test for an active infection with the NHS or at a private clinic, you’ll get either a positive or negative result.

If you test negative and no one in your household or support bubble has recently tested positive, you don’t have to self-isolate. You can resume your normal activities as allowed by the current Covid-19 regulations.

If you test positive, you should immediately self-isolate for 10 days from the date your test was taken. Anyone in your household or support bubble should self-isolate for 14 days, too.

What should you do if the coronavirus turnaround time is longer than you expected?

If you haven’t had your NHS coronavirus test results within six days, you’re advised to contact the coronavirus testing contact centre on 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland).

If you had your test taken at the Corona Test Centre and your results are later than expected, you can get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Corona Test Centre offers some of the fastest coronavirus test turnaround times available. Our expertise, knowledge and understanding ensure an easy and efficient coronavirus test experience. 

Visit our online portal to book a private test today.

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