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Positive test result for coronavirus (COVID-19)

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus (COVID-19) when the test was done. You must self-isolate immediately.

What you need to do next depends on the type of test you had.

Types of COVID-19 test

There are 2 main COVID-19 tests:

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they're sent to a lab to be checked and you get the result within a day or two
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Positive PCR test result

If you tested positive, you must self-isolate straight away to avoid spreading the infection to other people. Check if people you live with need to self-isolate.

Important

You could be fined if you do not self-isolate after getting a positive PCR test result.

The self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.

You may be able to leave self-isolation after 5 full days if certain conditions are met.

Find out how long to self-isolate

If you were already self-isolating and had a test because you've been in close contact with someone who tested positive, your self-isolation period restarts if you test positive.

If you live in a care home or in supported living, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days instead of 10.

You may be contacted by the NHS or your local council and asked for information to help the NHS alert your close contacts.

Tell your employer, school or nursery about your result.

You should not do another PCR test within 90 days of your positive result, unless you:

  • have any new symptoms of COVID-19
  • need to get a PCR test when you arrive in the UK from abroad

Positive rapid lateral flow test result

Rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site

If you get a positive lateral flow test result, you do not need to confirm the result with a PCR test. You only need to confirm a positive lateral flow test if:

  • you're applying for a Test and Trace Support Payment
  • you're eligible for new COVID-19 treatments
  • you're asked to do so as part of research
  • you have a positive rapid lateral flow test on or before day 2 of arriving in England from outside the UK

You'll need to:

Information:

Help and support while you're staying at home

While you're self-isolating:

  • you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer
  • you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you're not able to work

Find out about help and financial support while you're self-isolating

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2022
Next review due: 3 February 2022