Coronavirus testing is being provided for free across the UK, with Britons able to get themselves tested if they have symptoms, work on the front line or have come into contact with someone who has the virus. However, there has been some confusion over the rules when it comes to contact tracing.
The NHS is working to reach out to those who may have been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.
Once someone has a positive coronavirus test they must fill out information of where they have been and who they have seen over the past two weeks.
The NHS will then reach out to those in question, informing them they have been in contact with someone with a positive coronavirus result.
This comes via text message or email, with advice issued for what to do next.
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Anyone contacted by NHS track and trace will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, and then given advice for what to do next.
There will be a link to an account set up for you to do this, and anyone contacted is advised to follow all the steps.
Further information on testing, symptoms and what to do next will be given after completing the questions.
However, with the system up and running across the UK, there has been some confusion over when to isolate.
Do I have to self isolate if a friend or family member has been contacted by NHS track and trace?
If you have received the message yourself, the NHS will be able to give you advice on what to do next.
Part of this advice is what to do if you live with someone, have regular contact with friends or family or attend work.
The NHS says you must isolate if
- you have any symptoms of coronavirus
- you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
- you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK
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So if someone you live with has been contacted by NHS track and trace, you will not necessarily have to isolate.
However, if that person develops the symptoms of coronavirus, you will have to isolate for 14 days from their first symptoms.
This is in line with Government advice and takes into account any incubation period for the virus.
Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 is advised to arrange to be tested as soon as possible.
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
However, across the UK Britons have been struggling to access the testing system.
Critics have been quick to point out the flaw in this, as any coronavirus test needs to be done in the first five days of having symptoms.
Many of those logging on to the Government COVID test service are given a message which reads “this service is currently unavailable” or are being asked to travel miles away from their location.
With public transport advised against for those seeking tests, Britons are struggling to access the service.
Sarah-Jane Marsh, director of testing at the Whitehall Test and Trace operation tweeted today: “Can I please offer my heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a COVID test at present.
“All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded, its our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point.
“We are doing all we can to expand quickly.”