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What your coronavirus test result means

If you've had a test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19), there are 3 types of result you can get:

  • negative
  • positive
  • unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive

Important

You and anyone you live with should stay at home (self-isolate) until you get your result.

Negative result

A negative result means you did not have coronavirus when the test was done.

You can stop self-isolating if you test negative, as long as:

  • everyone you live with who has coronavirus symptoms also tests negative – keep self-isolating if someone in your home tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested
  • you feel well – if you still feel unwell, you may have a different illness that could spread to other people, so stay at home until you’re feeling better

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

When you stop self-isolating

When you stop self-isolating, follow the general advice about social distancing.

This means you should stay at home as much as possible. But you can go out to work (if you cannot work from home) and for things like getting food or exercising.

If you're a health or care worker, check with your employer before going back to work.

Information:

You could still get coronavirus after testing negative. Read about what to do if you get symptoms of coronavirus again.

Positive result

A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If you get a positive result, you and anyone you live with should keep self-isolating.

For information about how long to self-isolate, see self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms.

Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result

An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result means it's not possible to say for certain whether you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If this happens, you may be advised to ask for another coronavirus test. Do this as soon as possible, as the test is most accurate within a few days of your symptoms starting.

If you're not able to have another test, you and anyone you live with should keep self-isolating.

For information about how long to self-isolate, see self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms.

Urgent advice: If you need medical advice about your symptoms, go to:

Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.

Page last reviewed: 20 May 2020
Next review due: 27 May 2020