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Covid-19 testing options

Covid-19 testing

Everyone is advised to take PCR tests if experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Alongside this, rapid tests (lateral flow tests) should be taken regularly which can identify those carrying the virus but not showing symptoms.

Symptoms

Three main symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • or a change or loss of sense of taste or smell.

Precautionary symptoms

As well as the these three main symptoms, if you experience any of the below, we advise you also book a PCR test. Many people who have recently tested positive for Covid-19 have also displayed some other symptoms, including:

  • Runny or blocked nose   
  • Sore throat and/or hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Muscle ache or pain
  • Persistent headache.

If you have these or other covid symptoms, it is recommended you take a precautionary PCR test, and if that test result is positive you will then need to isolate for 10 days.

You cann book your test online and where you are able to, select the option “My local council has asked me to get a test”.

Testing options

If you have symptoms

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 (detailed above) should book a test online through the national system or call 119. Tower Hamlets residents will be offered an appointment at the closest testing site to them. In Tower Hamlets sites are:

  • Idea Store Watney Market, 260 Commercial Street, E1 2FB - 8am to 6pm
  • Jack Dash House, 2 Lawn House Close, E14 9YQ - 8am to 6pm
  • 1 Ewart Place, Roman Road, Bow, London, E3 5EQ - 8am to 6pm

Appointments at all these sites are available through the national system.

 

Our test facilities are unable to offer tests for international travel. More information on testing for international travel can be found online.

Antibody test available when booking a PCR test

Anyone booking a free PCR test for Covid-19 through the national website can also opt in to get an antibody test.

If your PCR test result is positive and you opted in for an antibody test when booking, you may be sent 2 antibody tests to do at home.

The first antibody test should be done within 6 days of getting your positive PCR test result, and the second test about 3 weeks after the first test.

You can still have the antibody test if you've had the Covid-19 vaccine.

More information on antibody tests can be found further down this webpage.

If you have no symptoms

One in three people who test positive for coronavirus show no symptoms at all. Anyone can now access free rapid Covid-19 tests (Lateral Flow Tests).

The tests are quick and convenient and provide results in under 30 minutes.

You should take up the offer of free and regular rapid Covid-19 tests, even if you have no symptoms. Quick and regular testing can help protect you and those you live with.

There is one fixed rapid testing site in Tower Hamlets:

  1. Canary Wharf - Level 2, Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5NY. Open 10am to 6pm Monday to Sunday. Walk in or book online.
    Please note the testing site at Jubilee Place will be closed from 1 December.

We also have mobile testing units, which change location daily. You can be assisted to take rapid tests at all of these sites.

Friday 26 November, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Watney Market

Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November, 11am to 5pm

Shoreditch Station

Columbia Road Flower Market

Watney Market

Globe Town Market Square

Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

St Johns Park

Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 December, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

St Johns Park

Junction of Cable St / Sutton St

Friday 3 December, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Junction of Cable St / Sutton St

Saturday 4 December and Sunday 5 December, 11am to 5pm

Shoreditch Station

Columbia Road Flower Market

Globe Town Market Square

Junction of Cable St / Sutton St

Monday 6 December and Tuesday 7 December, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Watney Market

Wednesday 8 December and Thursday 9 December, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Watney Market

Junction of Cable St / Sutton St

Friday 10 December, 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Watney Market

Saturday 11 December and Sunday 12 December, 11am to 5pm

Shoreditch Station

Columbia Road Flower Market

Watney Market

Globe Town Market Square

Monday 13 December and Tuesday 14 December 11am to 5pm

White Horse Lane / Mile End Road

Shoreditch Station

Junction of Cable St / Sutton St


Please note that from 1 November 2021 opening hours for mobile testing units will change to 11am to 5pm.

Collect a rapid lateral flow test

Anyone who wants to take up free regular rapid testing, can also pick up tests. In Tower Hamlets you can collect two boxes which include seven tests. They are currently available from:

  • Jubilee Place, Lower Mall - Level 2, Canary Wharf, E14 5NY - 12pm to 5.30pm

Community Centres - 12pm to 5.30pm

  • Aberfeldy Community Centre, Aberfeldy St, Aberfeldy Village, London, E14 0NU
  • St Pauls Way Community Centre, 83 St Paul's Way, Mile End, London, E3 4AJ
  • Idea Store Whitechapel, 321 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1BU
  • Idea Store Bow, 1 Gladstone Place, Roman Road, Bow, London, E3 5ES

Other pick up locations - 12pm to 5.30pm

Friday 26 November

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

St Pauls Way Community Centre

Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November

Shoreditch Station

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Aberfeldy Community Centre

Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 December

Bethnal Green Library

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Friday 3 December

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

St Pauls Way Community Centre

Saturday 4 December

Shoreditch Station

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Sunday 5 and Monday 6 December

Bethnal Green Library

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Tuesday 7 December

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

St Pauls Way Community Centre

Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 December

Bethnal Green Library

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Friday 10 December

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

St Pauls Way Community Centre

Saturday 11 December

Shoreditch Station

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Sunday 12 December and Monday 13 December

Bethnal Green Library

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

Tuesday 14 December

Whitechapel Idea Store

Bow Idea Store

Chrisp Street Idea Store

St Pauls Way Community Centre

You do not need an appointment to pick up the rapid tests from any of the above locations.

More information on antibody testing

What is antibody testing?

An antibody test is a blood test to check if you’ve had Covid-19 before or been vaccinated. The test detects your body’s response to the virus or vaccination, but it cannot tell you if you currently have Covid-19. You can still get an antibody test if you’ve had the Covid-19 vaccine.

What do the results mean?

A positive antibody test result means the test detected Covid-19 antibodies. This means you are likely to have some protection from severe disease, but it’s still possible to get the virus or spread it.

If you get a negative result, this means that the test didn’t detect Covid-19 antibodies. Most people make antibodies within 28 days of being infected or vaccinated, but it can take longer.

More information is available on the Government's website.

What happens now when I book a PCR test?

When you book a free PCR test for Covid1--19 on the national website, you may also be given the option to get a free antibody test.

If you opt in and your PCR test result is positive, you will be sent two free antibody tests to do at home. Up to 8,000 people who opt in and receive a positive PCR result will be sent two finger prick antibody tests to complete at home.

You will need to do the first antibody test within six days of getting your positive PCR test result and the second test about three weeks after the first test. Even if you have had the Covid-19 vaccine, you can still have the antibody test. This antibody test can detect antibodies made after vaccination or infection. Find out more information online.

Why are free antibody tests being offered to people who get a positive PCR?

Doing antibody tests after a positive PCR test helps the NHS learn:

  •  How likely people are to get Covid-19 again
  • How the body’s immune system responds to the virus or vaccine

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said antibody tests will give vital insight into how the vaccination programme and immune responses react to different variants. By comparing the two antibody test results, the UKHSA says it will be able to see how well vaccinated individuals boost their immunity when they are infected and how this might vary with different variants.

Should I get the antibody test?

It is entirely up to individuals whether they would like to get the antibody test or not. There is no obligation to take the antibody tests, but by taking part, you will be helping to further our understanding of Covid-19 and how our bodies respond.

The data collected from this antibody test study will be extremely useful in helping scientists to estimate the proportion of those who got Covid despite developing antibodies as a result of having a vaccine or previously catching Covid-19. The study could help us to understand why some groups of people do not develop an immune response, and this could be vital in helping us to continue supressing Covid-19 and protecting the vulnerable in our population.