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Negative test result for coronavirus (COVID-19)

A negative result means it’s likely you are not infectious.

But a negative test is not a guarantee you do not have COVID-19 and there’s still a chance you may be infectious. You should follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading the virus.

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home, report your rapid lateral flow test result as soon as possible.

When to self-isolate

You will need to self-isolate for 10 full days if you get a negative test result and:

  • you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you've been in close contact with someone who tested positive
  • you had a PCR test (a test that is sent to a lab) to confirm the result of a positive rapid lateral flow test, and there were more than 2 days between the tests (England only)

If you're going into hospital, keep self-isolating until you go in.

Find out more about how long to self-isolate

You may also need to self-isolate if someone you live with has tested positive. Check if you need to self-isolate


You may still need to quarantine after a negative test if you've recently travelled to England from abroad. Find out how to quarantine when you arrive in England on GOV.UK

If you feel unwell

If you still feel unwell after a negative test, stay at home until you're feeling better. Contact a GP if your symptoms get worse or do not go away.

Check with your employer before going back to work.

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

If you get COVID-19 symptoms after the test, you need to get tested again.

Page last reviewed: 16 September 2021
Next review due: 30 September 2021