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The NHS Test and Trace service

Last Updated 11:53am, 2 March 2021


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.

NHS Test and Trace:

  • ensures 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
  • helps 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 NHS COVID-19 app is available to download for free in England and Wales and 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 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 display symptoms and up to 10 days after (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. Read our guide to help you with self-isolating.

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, 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 free NHS test online or by calling 119.

Drive-through testing facilities are available in Exeter and Plymouth, and mobile test sites are at a range of locations. All of these locations can be seen on our map.

If needed, 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.