Are you showing symptoms of coronavirus? Or have you been in contact with someone who’s tested positive? Maybe you just want a little reassurance when returning to work or visiting friends and family. Either way, knowing how to order a COVID test is essential information.

A home test kit is a convenient option if you can’t reach a test centre, or if you prefer the idea of doing the test in the comfort of your own home. But home testing has its limitations, too — is it the right option for you?

How to order a COVID home test kit

From the NHS

You can order a free home testing kit from the government website.

Here, you’ll have to confirm that you have been asked to take a test by your local council or a hospital. Or that you’re currently experiencing at least one of the following symptoms:

  • A new and continuous cough (which means coughing a lot for an hour, or three or more coughing fits within 24 hours)
  • A temperature
  • A sudden loss of taste or smell

From a private clinic

You can also order a home testing kit from a growing number of private clinics. You can take these tests whether you’re currently experiencing coronavirus symptoms or not.

Lloyds Pharmacy

Lloyds Pharmacy have COVID home test kits for £119. Tests arrive within two working days of you placing your order. And results are available within 72 hours of the lab receiving your sample.

Medicspot

Medicspot offer home tests for £149 with next day delivery. You’ll have your results within 24 hours of your sample arriving at the lab.

My Healthcare Clinic

My Healthcare Clinic also offer home testing for £149. Results are guaranteed within 48 hours of a sample arriving at the lab.

Who can use a COVID home test?

Tests are available for both adults and children, so they’re suitable for anyone in the family. However, children aged 11 and under will need an adult to do the swab test for them. Teens can do the test themselves, but under the watchful eye of a grown up.

How do you do a COVID home test?

Before you order the test

It’s your responsibility to perform a home test correctly. And there are a couple of things you need to cross off your list before you even order the test.

  1. Find out where your nearest Royal Mail priority post box is

Only specified post boxes can be used for sending COVID home tests to the lab.

  1. Check your timings

Timing is of the utmost importance.

In order to get reliable results, you need to take a home test kit on days 1 to 4 of your coronavirus symptoms (if you are actually experiencing symptoms). Bear in mind that it can take 48 hours from ordering a home test for it to arrive at your home.  

Because Royal Mail don’t do collections on Sundays or bank holidays, you should avoid taking your COVID home test on these days.

You also need to post your sample no later than 1 hour before the final collection listed on the priority post box you’ve chosen to use.

Only place your order once you’ve got your head around when and how to order a COVID test.  

Taking the test

When your test arrives, go to the government website to register it.

When it’s registered, you can do the swab — please note: this needs to be on the same day you plan to post your test. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Clean the surface where you’ll put your test kit. Blow your nose gently. Then wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.
  • Take the swab, open your mouth and (it helps to be near a mirror) gently rub the swab over your tonsils for ten seconds. It’s really important that the swab doesn’t touch your tongue, teeth or any other part of your mouth.   
  • Take the same swab and insert it about 2.5cm into your nostril (or until you feel some resistance). Rotate the swab for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Now the sample has been taken, put your swab into the plastic vial and package it up according to the instructions in your test pack.

Check that the parcel is secure and then post it into a priority post box, no later than 1 hour before the final collection of the day.

Wait for your results

Your results will be delivered to you by email, text message or both — depending on whether you’ve chosen an NHS or private test. Results are available anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours after your sample has been received by the lab.

Other options for COVID testing

A COVID home test means you don’t have to travel any further than the post box. But it’s still a pretty complicated process to follow. You also need to be totally confident that you can take the test within the specified timeframe.  

If you decide that a home test isn’t right for you, there are a couple of other options you can choose from:

Tests at NHS test centres

Only PCR tests are available at the NHS test sites. This is the same test that is sent out to your home if you choose a home test kit.

You’re only able to book a test if you currently have coronavirus symptoms.

How to order or book an NHS COVID test

You can drive to a test centre and perform the test yourself, sat in your car. In some areas of the country you can also attend a walk-up test site.

Appointments are available through the government website and you can usually book a slot for the following day. However, as we’ve seen, at times of high demand, this isn’t always the case.   

Results

The government aims to return test results within 48 hours of a swab being taken.

Tests at private clinics

Private clinics offer a wider variety of COVID tests than the NHS. At a private clinic you can get a PCR test, a rapid antigen test and an antibody test. You can also get a Fit to Fly test, which will provide you with the certification you need to travel abroad.

You can get tested at a private clinic even if you don’t currently have symptoms of COVID-19.

How to order or book a COVID test in a private clinic

At a private clinic, a healthcare professional will usually take a sample from your nose and/or throat. In the case of an antibody test, they’ll take a blood sample.

When a healthcare professional performs the test you can be 100% confident that the test has been done properly.

Private clinics often have better appointment availability than the NHS test sites. You may be able to find same-day availability at some.

Results

Depending on the test you take, results are sometimes available the same day as your appointment. At Corona Test Centre we have four different types of test and offer results in as little as a few hours.

How to order the right COVID test for you

In some cases, a home test is the right option. And those living in rural areas may find home testing more convenient versus visiting a test centre. However, if you want total trust and confidence in your result, an in-person assessment is the way forward.

Visit the Corona Test Centre website today to book your COVID test with our fully-trained healthcare professionals, and get the reassurance you need.