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The NHS Test and Trace service

Last Updated 3:40pm, 4 November 2020


Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

What is Test and Trace?

The NHS Test and Trace service allows us to trace the spread of the virus and isolate any new infections. It plays a vital role in giving us early warning if the virus is increasing again, locally or nationally.

It’s primary objectives are to:

  • ensure that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and also includes targeted asymptomatic testing of NHS and social care staff and care home residents
  • help trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

The NHS Test and Trace app

The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free in England and Wales, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from coronavirus. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy.

Download from the App Store or get it on Google Play.

What happens if I'm contacted by the service?

If someone who does not live with you tests positive for COVID-19 they’ll be asked who they’ve been in contact with recently. If you’re one of those people someone from the NHS test and trace service will notify you by text message, email or phone.

A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, anytime from 2 days before the person started to show any symptoms up to 10 days after they started to show symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others).

If you are contacted by the service you must:

Do not:

  • go to work, school or other public areas
  • use public transport or taxis

Self-isolating in this way will help protect your family, friends, the wider community and the NHS.

You don’t need to arrange to have a test unless you develop any symptoms. Others in your household won’t need to self-isolate unless you start to show any symptoms, however if you live with someone who is vulnerable you should stay away from them as much as possible.

This guidance does not include health care workers and others working in health and social care settings, who should follow separate guidance.

If someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus

If anyone in your household starts to show any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you must follow the stay at home guidance, even if you are not contacted by the test and trace service.

Arranging a test

If you are contacted by the test and trace service and later develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) you will need to arrange a test via the NHS COVID-19 app, the NHS website or by calling 119

Drive through testing facilities are available in Exeter and Plymouth, and mobile test sites are at a range of locations. If needs be, you can request a home testing kit. If you call 119, you will be given details of the nearest test facility and a test can be booked for you.

If you become unwell whilst visiting Devon

If you feel unwell and experience any symptoms of coronavirus you must:

  • stay indoors and self-isolate
  • arrange a test using your holiday address
  • notify your accomodation provider

You can access a test by going to the NHS website or by calling 119.  You’ll either be able to book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site or ask for a home test kit. Test results are issued by text or email so you do not need to wait for your results if you are due to return home before your result may arrive. You must return home the most direct way and do not use public transport.

Do not ignore your symptoms; self-isolating and getting tested quickly is the best way you can stay safe and protect others.

If you’re staying or travelling with others, they must also self-isolate and take appropriate action based on your test result.

If you need medical advice whilst you wait for your test results please contact your regular GP or call 111. In the event of a medical emergency, call 999.

My test was positive

If you test positive for coronavirus and feel well enough to travel and do not need to use public transport, you should return home as quickly and directly as you can. If you feel so unwell that you cannot travel or cannot avoid public transport, you should continue to isolate and call 111 for further advice. It is important that you do not use public transport. You must also tell your accommodation provider that you have tested positive.

My test was negative

Stay and enjoy your visit as planned but if you need medical assistance please call your own regular GP or 111.