PCR home test instructions for people eligible for new COVID-19 treatments (2022)

PCR home test instructions for people eligible for new COVID-19 treatments (1)

© Crown copyright 2022

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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pcr-home-testing-for-people-eligible-for-new-covid-19-treatments/pcr-home-test-instructions-for-people-eligible-for-new-covid-19-treatments

You have received this home PCR test kit because your medical records show you may be suitable for new treatments if a test confirms you have coronavirus (COVID-19).

Before you start

Important

Register the test kit online just before taking your test.

Only use this test if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Do not use this priority PCR test kit if you are going into hospital for a procedure. Your hospital or health board will arrange a COVID-19 test.

The test must only be used by the person it is addressed to.

Do not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before doing your test to reduce the risk of spoiling the test.

Wash your hands for 20 seconds before you handle the test.

What you need to do

Return your test the same day you take it.

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Your step-by-step guide

Read through the instructions and follow the steps in the correct order. The preparation and test will take about 30 minutes.

Contents of this booklet

  1. Choose how to return your test kit
  2. Register the test kit online
  3. Doing a test on yourself or someone else
  4. Set up your test
  5. Check test kit contents
  6. Take your swab sample
  7. Package the test kit
  8. Return the completed test kit
  9. Your test result

Who this test is suitable for

Adults aged 18 and over. Self-test (with assistance if needed).

Young people aged 12 to 15, self-test with adult supervision (and assistance if needed).

Children 11 and under, adult to test.

Failure to follow the instructions in this booklet may affect the performance of the test and may give an inaccurate or void result.

General guidance and warnings

Do not use the package if it arrives damaged, is missing components or is within 7 days of its use-by date.

This device is for single use only.

Store out of the reach of children.

These kits are only designed for human use only.

Do not use excessive force, pressure or bend the swab when collecting swab samples, as this may break the swab.

Clean spills from the plastic tube using paper towels and household cleaner.

Get medical advice if the solution is accidentally swallowed or comes into contact with the skin, mouth or eyes.

If you have a nose piercing, swab the other nostril. If pierced on both sides, remove the piercing on one side before swabbing that nostril.

If you have had a nosebleed within the last 24 hours, swab the other nostril or wait 24 hours.

If there is a reason you cannot take a throat swab, swab both nostrils instead.

If you have problems with your hands or vision, you may need someone to assist you with the swabbing and testing process.

1. Choose how to return your test kit

To return your test kit, you can either use a Royal Mail priority postbox or book a courier (call 119 by 7pm to guarantee collection the next day).

If you are taking your test on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, call 119 to book a courier by 7pm the day before.

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Use a Royal Mail priority postbox (fastest way)

Post the test an hour before the last collection.

Check collection times: royalmail.com/services-near-you

Find a priority postbox: download and use the Royal Mail app or visit royalmail.com/services-near-you

If you are unable to post your completed test kit yourself, you can ask someone else to post it for you.

Book a courier

Call the contact centre on 119 to book a next day courier collection and for guidance on when to take your test.

You should request a courier collection if you are:

  • taking your test on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday
  • not able to post your test at least an hour before the last priority postbox collection
  • too unwell to leave your home
  • a resident of the NHS Highland area and do not have access to a priority postbox

If you book a courier for a morning collection slot, you need to take your test by 7am.

2. Register the test kit online

Register the kit just before you take the test. You must register the test kit online to get the test results.

You’ll need your:

  • mobile phone number we can send your result to
  • NHS number (England and Wales) – you can find this at the top of your NHS letter about this test kit, or find your NHS number
  • CHI number (Scotland)
  • H&C number (Northern Ireland)
  • your postcode
  • 13-character Royal Mail barcode from the prepaid return label – enter numbers and letters only and not the # hashtag symbol
  • 11-character test kit barcode – this is on the front page of the instruction booklet, plastic tube, leakproof bag and return box

Get help to register your test

If you cannot use the online service, call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines).

Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and 9am to 1pm on weekends.

119 provides support in 200 languages.

3. Doing a test on yourself or someone else

If you cannot do the test, everyone in the household needs to follow the current government guidance.

Follow the guidelines on how to prepare and test yourself or a person who requires assistance.

You can watch a video demonstration at: gov.uk/pcr-home-test

Do not delay getting help if you feel very unwell and are worried.

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England: dial 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk for help and advice.

Scotland: dial 111 or visit nhsinform.scot.

Wales: dial 111 or visit 111.wales.nhs.uk.

Northern Ireland: contact your GP or your GP out of hours service.

For a medical emergency dial 999.

4. Set up your test

Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser before handling the test kit to avoid contaminating it.

You will need:

  • tissues
  • surface cleaner
  • hand sanitiser or soap and warm water
  1. Read this instruction guide carefully.
  2. Clear, clean and dry a surface and place the home test kit contents on it.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds using soap and warm water or hand sanitiser. If more than one test is being done, clean the surface and rewash your hands between each test.

5. Check test kit contents

Check the use-by date [YYYY-MM-DD] on the label on the inner test kit package. Do not use the test device after, or within 7 days before, its use-by date.

Your test kit should have these items:

  • an 11-character barcode on the instruction leaflet, plastic tube, leakproof bag and return box – make sure the barcode is the same on all these items
  • leakproof bag
  • plastic tube, containing a small amount of liquid
  • return box
  • white absorbent pad
  • swab, inside a sealed wrapper
  • security seal for the return box

What to do if something is damaged, broken or missing

If anything is broken or missing, or if any barcodes do not match, or if the test kit’s use-by date has expired, do not use the kit.

Call the contact centre on 119 to order a new test kit.

6. Take your swab sample

Try not to touch your tongue, teeth, cheeks, gums, or any other surfaces with the swab’s fabric tip, as this may spoil your sample. If this does happen, complete and return the test anyway.

  1. Look inside the mouth and find the tonsils at the back of the throat or the area they would have been if your tonsils have been removed.
  2. Gently blow the nose into a tissue so excess mucus does not spoil the test. Throw the tissue away in a bin.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds using soap and warm water or hand sanitiser before handling the test kit to avoid contaminating it.
  4. Open the package and gently take out the swab. Be careful not to touch the fabric tip with your fingers. You will use this for both tonsils and nose.
  5. Hold the swab in your hand, open your mouth wide and tilt your head back. Gently rub the fabric tip of the swab over both tonsils (or where they would have been if your tonsils have been removed). Do this with good contact 4 times on each side. Carefully remove the swab.
  6. Put the same end of the same swab gently into the nostril about 2.5cm or until you feel some resistance. Roll the swab firmly around making 10 complete circles, no force is needed. Carefully remove the swab. If you have a piercing, use the other nostril.
  7. Unscrew the lid from the plastic tube, while keeping it upright so the liquid stays inside. Put the swab into it with the fabric tip facing down.
  8. Snap off the stick end of the swab, so that it fits inside the tube without bending.
  9. Securely screw the lid on so no liquid can leak.

The liquid must stay in the tube.

7. Package the test kit

  1. Place the absorbent pad into the leakproof bag. Put the tube next to the absorbent pad in the same bag.
  2. Let some air out of the leakproof bag and then seal it using its adhesive seal. Make sure that it is sealed properly.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds using soap and warm water or hand sanitiser.

How to assemble the return box

  1. Follow the assembly instructions on the return box.
  2. Fold both the sides upwards and inwards towards the centre.
  3. Fold the bottom part of the lid towards the centre on top of the sides.
  4. Put the sealed leakproof bag containing the plastic tube and absorbent pad into the box.
  5. Close the box. Apply the security seal as shown to close the box securely.
  6. Take a picture or note of the barcode so you can track the delivery. You are now ready to post your test kit.

Dispose of any remaining test kit parts in your household waste.

8. Return the completed test kit

Use a Royal Mail priority postbox (fastest way)

Post the completed test kit on the same day you take the test and no later than 1 hour before the last collection time.

Only use a Royal Mail priority postbox with the label and one of the NHS logos.

If symptomatic, you should wear a face covering and try to avoid contact with others.

Follow the latest government guidance: gov.uk/coronavirus or call 119.

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Track your delivery using your Royal Mail return label barcode at royalmail.com/track-and-trace.

Courier collection

If you have booked a courier collection, your completed test kit will be collected in the arranged morning or afternoon time slot.

If the courier does not arrive, call 119 for advice.

Give feedback about your test or report harm

If you are harmed by a device or have feedback about your test kit, reporting it could help others.

Go to: gov.uk/covid-19-test-feedback or call 119.

9. Your test result

You should get the results by email and text within 2 days of returning the kit.

Call 119 if you do not get your results within 48 hours.

Tell the operator that you took a priority test and if your result is positive, you may get new treatments.

If your PCR test shows that you have COVID-19

The NHS may contact you to arrange a telephone appointment with a medical professional, who will discuss what treatments are suitable for you. What happens next depends on where you live.

England

After receiving your positive PCR test result if you are not contacted about treatment after 24 hours, contact your GP surgery or call 111 (during evenings and at weekends).

They can make an urgent referral.

Wales

After receiving your positive PCR test result if you are not contacted about treatment after 48 hours, contact the hospital team responsible for your care or call 111.

They can make an urgent referral.

Northern Ireland

After receiving your positive PCR test result if you are not contacted about treatment after 24 hours, contact your GP surgery or their out of hours services during evenings and weekends.

They can make an urgent referral.

Scotland

For information on how to access COVID-19 treatments in Scotland go to: nhsinform.scot/covid19treatments

If you are unable to access the link, phone the NHS COVID-19 information line: 0800 028 2816

Get help to take your test

You can use the free Be My Eyes app to get help from trained NHS Test and Trace staff. Download the app, go to Specialised Help and select NHS Test and Trace in the Personal Health category.

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If you need help, call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines). Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and 9am to 1pm on weekends.

FAQs

How long does it take to get the COVID-19 antibody test result? ›

You should get your result within 3 to 7 days of taking the test (usually by text or email).

Are COVID-19 tests 100% reliable? ›

No test is 100% reliable, even those who meet regulatory standards for performance and safety. The results are also only relevant to that sample at that point in time.

How long do COVID-19 booster side effects last? ›

Like all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them. Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as: a sore arm from the injection.

Can you take ibuprofen if you have the coronavirus disease? ›

Patients can take paracetamol or ibuprofen when self-medicating for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and headache, and should follow NHS advice if they have any questions or if symptoms get worse.

What does a negative COVID-19 antibody test result mean? ›

A negative result means the test did not detect COVID-19 antibodies.

What is an antibody test for COVID-19? ›

An antibody test is a blood test to check if you've had coronavirus (COVID-19) before or been vaccinated.

Can I develop immunity to COVID-19 after testing positive for PCR? ›

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last. It is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.

How long should I exercise for during quarantine? ›

Physical activity and relaxation techniques can be valuable tools to help you remain calm and continue to protect your health during this time. WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.

How can one stay physically active during COVID-19 self-quarantine? ›

Walk. Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot, can help you remain active. If you have a call, stand or walk around your home while you speak, instead of sitting down.

What is the coronavirus procurement policy note? ›

This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. Contracting authorities must act now to ensure suppliers at risk are in a position to resume normal contract delivery once the outbreak is over.

Who might be at higher risk of becoming ill with COVID-19? ›

People who are at higher risk from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections include: Older people. Those who are pregnant. Those who are unvaccinated. People of any age whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness. People of any age with certain long-term conditions.

Who are at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19? ›

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Can you have flu and COVID-19 at the same time? ›

We do know that people can be infected with flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. Getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19.

Do smokers suffer from worse COVID-19 symptoms? ›

Early research indicates that, compared to non-smokers, having a history of smoking may substantially increase the chance of adverse health outcomes for COVID-19 patients, including being admitted to intensive care, requiring mechanical ventilation and suffering severe health consequences.

How long does it take for COVID-19 booster to become effective? ›

It may take 7 days for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to work.

Can asymptomatic people transmit COVID-19? ›

Yes, infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they don't have symptoms. This is why it is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, isolated, and, depending on the severity of their disease, receive medical care.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 vaccine side effects? ›

Most side effects are mild or moderate and go away within a few days of appearing. If side effects such as pain and/or fever are troublesome, they can be treated by medicines for pain and fever such as paracetamol.

What are the most common adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine? ›

The most frequent adverse reactions in trials were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, myalgia (muscle pains), chills, arthralgia (joint pains), and fever; these were each reported in more than 1 in 10 people.

What are some of the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? ›

Some recipients have reported chills, shivering (in some cases rigors), and increased body temperature possibly with sweating, headache (including migraine-like headaches), nausea, myalgia and malaise, starting within a day of vaccination. These effects usually lasted for a day or two.

How long does the virus that causes COVID-19 last on surfaces? ›

Recent research evaluated the survival of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces and reported that the virus can remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Can you take ibuprofen if you have the coronavirus disease? ›

Patients can take paracetamol or ibuprofen when self-medicating for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and headache, and should follow NHS advice if they have any questions or if symptoms get worse.

When should you take a COVID-19 test before going into hospital for a procedure? ›

If you are going into hospital, you must take your coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR home test kit exactly 3 days before the day of your procedure.

Can I enter any Post Office with my COVID-19 test kit? ›

You must not enter any Post Office with your test kit.

Can you have the flu and COVID-19 at same time? ›

It's possible that the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu may spread in your community at the same time during the flu season. If this happens, people could become ill with one or both diseases at the same time. Testing can determine which virus you may have and help guide doctors to the appropriate treatment.

What does a negative COVID-19 antibody test result mean? ›

A negative result means the test did not detect COVID-19 antibodies.

Does the NHS COVID-19 app identify me? ›

The app does not identify you or your location to other app users.

How should you maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at home with possible infection? ›

Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Observe strict social distancing.

How does COVID-19 usually spread? ›

When someone with a respiratory viral infection such as COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small particles that contain the virus which causes the infection. These particles can be breathed in or can come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.

How serious is COVID-19 usually for most children? ›

For most children and young people, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

Videos

1. How to test a child for COVID-19 (PCR home test)
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2. The Best Covid-19 Home Test: PCR-Like Gadgets vs. Rapid Antigen Kits | WSJ
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3. Covid 19 test kit at home | Corona test at home using ICMR approved covid test kit
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4. How to use the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
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6. How and when to take a rapid COVID-19 test
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