COVID-19 testing if you do not have symptoms

Around one in three people with Covid-19 have no symptoms, but can still pass it on to others. If you can't work from home during Coronavirus restrictions, it is a good idea to have a regular test.

Surrey County Council has launched a new Targeted Community Testing programme which uses rapid Covid-19 tests to identify people who have coronavirus without symptoms, so they don't spread the virus unknowingly.

Anyone who is eligible is encouraged to book a test two times a week. You will not need to isolate while waiting for the results of the symptom-free test. Unless you develop symptoms, you will only need to isolate if you are notified that you have tested positive.

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What is a symptom-free test?

A symptom-free test also known as a 'rapid test', can detect if you have coronavirus with no symptoms. The testing process takes around 10 minutes, and you should get results within 30 minutes to 2 hours of leaving the site in most cases.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered). The test will then be analysed by a staff member on site.

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Who can get a symptom-free test?

Anyone in Surrey aged 16 or over who must leave home to work and does not have access to a symptom-free test through other routes. We are particularly encouraging critical workers leaving home for work to be tested. The full list can be found on the GOV website. However, you do not have to be a key worker to be eligible. Some of the jobs that are eligible could include:

  • supermarket worker
  • private nursery worker
  • child minder
  • delivery driver
  • construction worker
  • refuse collector
  • social worker
  • postal worker
  • taxi or transport driver
  • tradespeople entering people's homes
  • funeral director

We are aware that staff from nurseries and pre-schools and childminders have been recommended to access symptom-free testing via community testing. Therefore childminders working from their own homes and do not need to leave their home to work, are eligible for a symptom-free test via the Targeted Community Testing programme.

You must:

  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Not have any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, new persistent cough or loss of sense of taste or smell). If you have any of these symptoms you book a COVID-19 test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.
  • Be a resident of Surrey, or work in the county.
  • Not have been instructed to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

How to book a test

You can book a free symptom-free test at a site closest to you. Simply book an appointment online or by telephone and take your booking confirmation to your nearest test centre at your chosen time.

  • Online booking system
  • Phone: 020 8865 1952 (Monday - Friday 8.30am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm, local charges will apply)

You can book regular tests and can book up to two weeks in advance.

Where to book a test

There are a number of test sites in Surrey, with plans to have additional sites across the county. When you book your appointment to have your test, you will be given the option to choose which testing site to visit.

Receiving results

You will receive your result from NHS Test and Trace, via text message and email. You will receive your result within two hours in most cases, but it can sometimes take up to a day.

If you test positive, you must self-isolate immediately, along with everyone in your household, for 10 days after the day of the test. Contact tracing will be initiated through NHS Test & Trace and any contacts will be advised to self-isolate as well.

Travel advice when you receive your notification of a positive test:

  • Travel home immediately, wearing a face covering
  • Wherever possible you should travel home in your own vehicle or by walking or cycling
  • If it is not possible to do so, you should arrange for a member of your household to pick you up
  • You should follow national guidance provided by the Department for Transport when travelling home.
  • Asymptomatic contacts of positives cases should go home as they would normally do. If the contact becomes symptomatic, they should follow same travel advice as positive cases (above).

If you test negative, you should continue to follow the preventative measures currently recommended for stopping the spread of the virus, as well as measures implemented as part of the national lockdown.

To protect yourself and others, you must remember: Hands. Face. Space.

  • Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitiser or gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will meet people you do not normally meet.
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.

Education staff testing

Twice-weekly asymptomatic testing is already available for the secondary school, most college, primary school, school-based nursery and maintained nursery school workforce. This includes support staff such as teaching assistants and those supporting with wraparound childcare.

There are changes to the testing programme in preparation for the return of all students to the classroom from 8 March.

Testing is voluntary but we would encourage as many people as possible to take part to help reduce the prevalence of the virus and protect their community.

School and College staff

By 5 March, all primary, secondary and college staff will be provided with home test kits to allow them to test regularly, twice a week, at home. You can start using home test kits from whenever you receive them.

Staff should carry out their tests at home before they go into work.

If a home test has a positive result, you should stay at home, follow the national guidance and book a confirmatory PCR test at gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

Nursery staff

All staff in Surrey County Council maintained nursery schools and school-based nurseries will continue to have access to testing. These tests will become available to conduct at home, twice a week, by 5 March. You can start using home test kits from whenever you receive them.

Tests should be carried out at home before going to work.

All staff at private, voluntary and independent nurseries will also have access to tests to use twice weekly at home from late March. These settings will start to receive deliveries of lateral flow device (LFD) home testing kits to offer to all of their staff for twice weekly testing from March.

Childminders

Childminders can continue to access community testing. The government is reviewing how testing will continue for childminders going forward.

Higher Education staff

The government has asked higher education providers to provide testing for their staff, as part of the roll-out of workplace-based testing. It advises that staff should conduct testing twice weekly.

Employer-led testing

Private and public sector employers with more than 50 employees can access rapid lateral flow tests in their workplace. This is for regular testing of employees without symptoms in the workplace. Private sector employers can register on the GOV.UK website. Public sector employers should submit their interest by emailing publicsectortesting@dhsc.gov.uk.

Care home testing

In England, all registered adult care homes can apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and/or staff of your care home. You can apply whether or not any of your residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms. Find out more and apply on the GOV.UK website.