Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Getting a test

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests are available for everyone who lives in Thurrock.

Tests are provided free by the NHS. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – even if mild – or you've had contact with someone who has tested positive, you'll get the type of test that is sent to a laboratory (called a 'PCR' test). Otherwise, you'll get a rapid swab test (called a 'lateral flow' test).

Lateral flow tests are designed for rapid testing of people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 but could be carrying the virus without knowing – 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms. By getting a regular test you can help the NHS and avoid spreading COVID-19 to family, friends and colleagues. You should get tested even if you've been given a vaccine.

You can still get tested if you've been asked to self-isolate for 10 days by NHS Test and Trace or by our Public Health team, but you must complete your period of self-isolation even if you test negative.

If you've tested positive

If you take a lateral flow test and get a positive result, you must have it confirmed by a PCR test within 48 hours. You can do this by following the instructions under 'How to get a PCR test', below.

If you've previously had a PCR test that gave a positive result, you should not get re-tested within 90 days unless you develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.

If you do have a lateral flow test within 90 days of a positive PCR test, however, and the lateral flow test gives a positive result, you and your household should all self-isolate.

Advice on self-isolating is given at the end of this page.

If you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 and haven't been contacted by NHS Test and Trace

Everyone can get tested twice a week – you can get a lateral flow test even if you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 and you haven't been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

All students at secondary school or college (ages 11 to 18), and anyone who works in a primary school, secondary school or college, will be provided with home test kits by the school or college in term-time.

If you're in any other employment, you should – where possible – get home test kits from your employer.

Otherwise you can drop-in and get home test kits from a pharmacy in the 'Pharmacy Collect' scheme.

To find your nearest collection site, go to NHS: find where to get rapid lateral flow tests. The NHS map of collection sites may not display correctly on older web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. For advice on getting an up-to-date browser, go to GOV.UK: browsers.

You can no longer get home test kits from walk-through test sites.

Alternatively, you can order home test kits to be sent by post at GOV.UK: order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have any of the following symptoms, even if mild, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible.

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If you or anyone you live with has any of these symptoms, you must stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

If NHS Test and Trace says you've had contact with someone who has tested positive

If you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 but NHS Test and Trace says you have had contact with someone who has tested positive, you should self-isolate and order a PCR test kit by post.

To order your test kit, follow the instructions below for 'how to get a PCR test' and choose the options for a getting a test by post. Do not go to a drop-in testing site or book a drive-through or walk-through test.

You must complete your period of self-isolation, even if you get a negative test result.

If you test positive, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of your test.

For general advice, go to GOV.UK: NHS Test and Trace – what to do if you are contacted.

How to get a PCR test

You should get a PCR test only if you have any symptom of COVID-19 or have received a positive result from a lateral flow test.

To get a PCR test, either:

  • book a drive-through test at site in Corringham or Grays
  • book a walk-through test at sites in Grays, Orsett Heath or South Ockendon
  • ask to get a test by post

Most people get their PCR test results the next day, but it can take up to 3 days. Go to NHS: your coronavirus test result for details.

You can book a PCR test at a drive-through or walk-through site, or ask for a test by post, on the government's GOV.UK website below.

Due to high demand for PCR tests, some testing sites in Thurrock may be fully booked. Please keep checking the GOV.UK booking page or phone 119 for NHS Test and Trace to ask about available slots. Alternatively, use the GOV.UK website below to ask for a PCR test by post.

GOV.UK: get a coronavirus test

You will be asked a series of questions and must be able to provide a mobile phone number.

Places where you can get a test are listed within the booking system. You can choose your preferred place, but book early for the same day as spaces may be limited.

Testing sites are open on weekdays and weekends. Next-day appointment slots for sites in Thurrock are usually made available during the evening before. If you need to make a booking for the next day, it may be best to try after 8pm, otherwise you may be offered a booking somewhere further away.

Self-isolating

You must self-isolate immediately if any of the NHS's reasons for self-isolating apply to you. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must only leave your home to get a test.

For guidance, go to NHS: when to self-isolate and what to do.

If you are employed or self-employed on a low income and have to self-isolate at home, you may be entitled to a one-off Test and Trace Support payment.