Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+ Addthis

COVID-19 testing options

COVID testing

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

From 11 January, if you have no symptoms but have a positive lateral flow test, you no longer need to get a PCR test to confirm infection. You should report your positive lateral flow test result and must self-isolate immediately. You will then be contacted by NHS Test and Trace so that your contacts can be traced. More information is available on the gov.uk website

It is important to be aware that if you have syptoms of Covid-19 you are still advised to get a PCR test.

From Monday 17 January, if you have Covid-19 you can end your self-isolation after five full days, as long as you test negative on days five and six. Read more on the gov.uk website

On this page

Symptoms - PCR testing

Symptoms

Three main symptoms of COVID are:

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

Precautionary symptoms

As well as 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 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 five days, with testing on days six and seven. 

How can I get a PCR test?

You can book your 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:

  • Haulage Way in Victoria Park, E5 (12-19 January and 22 January - 6 February)
  • 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.

International travel

Our test facilities are unable to offer tests for international travel.

Stay up to date with the latest advice on testing for international travel online.

No symptoms – rapid lateral flow testing

Book your rapid test

 

 

Anyone can now access free rapid COVID tests (also known as 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 tests, even if you have no symptoms.

Quick and regular testing can help protect you and those you live with.

More on self-isolating and contact tracing can be found on the test and trace page.

Where can I get a lateral flow test?

There is one fixed rapid testing site in Tower Hamlets offering tests:

  • Unit 160, Cabot Place Mall (West), Canary Wharf, London, E14 4QT. Open 10am to 6pm Monday to Sunday. Walk in or book online.

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

The following map shows the locations of our mobile testing units. You can also find a list of where the mobile testing units will be on different dates.

 

All mobile testing units are open 11am to 5pm.

Friday 21 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Saturday 22 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • St Johns Park - E14 3JF 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Sunday 23 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Columbia Road Flower Market - E2 7RG 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • St Johns Park - E14 3JF
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Friday 28 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Saturday 29 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 
  • Globe Town Market Square - E2 0PJ

Sunday 30 January

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Globe Town Market Square - E2 0PJ
  • Columbia Road Flower Market - E2 7RG

Monday 31 January and Tuesday 1 February

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 February

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • St Johns Park - E14 3JF
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Friday 4 February

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

Saturday 5 February

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 
  • Globe Town Market Square - E2 0PJ

Sunday 6 Februay

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 
  • Columbia Road Flower Market - E2 7RG

Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 February

  • White Horse Lane / Mile End Road - E1 4AA 
  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY 
  • Junction of Cable St / Sutton St - E1 0AL 

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

Collect from community spaces

Please find below a list of community locations where rapid tests can be collected in Tower Hamlets.

Friday 21 January, 11am to 5pm

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • St Paul’s Way community centre, E3 4AJ

Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 January, 11am to 5pm

  • Shoreditch Station - E1 6GY
  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT

Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 January

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • Aberfeldy Community Centre

Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 January

  • Bethnal Green Library
  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT

Friday 28 January

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • St Pauls Way Community Centre

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 January

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • Shoreditch Station

Monday 31 January and Tuesday 1 February

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • Aberfeldy Community Centre

Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 February

  • Bethnal Green Library
  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT

Friday 4 February

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • St Pauls Way Community Centre

Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • Shoreditch Station

Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 February

  • Whitechapel Idea Store, E1 1BU
  • Bow Idea Store, E3 5EU
  • Chrisp St. Idea Store, E14 6BT
  • Aberfeldy Community Centre

Collect from pharmacies

You can also collect lateral flow tests from pharmacies across Tower Hamlets.

Pharmacy collection times:

LloydsPharmacy (inside Sainsbury's)

Cambridge Heath Road, E1 5SD

8am–7pm

Shanty's

 

253 Whitechapel Road, E1 1DB

9am–6pm

Dmb Chemist

 

4 Watney Market, E1 2PR

9am–7pm

Jaypharm

 

4 Brayford Square, E1 0SG

9.30am–6.30pm

Day Lewis Pharmacy

 

195, E1 1DN

9am–7pm

Boots

 

382 Commercial Rd, E1 0LB

9am–7pm

Chapel Pharmacy

 

139 Cannon Street Road, E1 2LX

9am–7pm

Ali's Pharmacy

 

93 Watney Street, E1 2QE

9am–6pm

Medichem

 

100 Whitehorse Lane, E1 4LR

9am–7pm

Day Lewis Pharmacy

 

12-14, E1 5NG

8am–7pm

Boots

 

426-428 Bethnal Green Rd, E2 0DJ

9am–7pm

Florida Pharmacy

 

360 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AH

9am–6pm

Sai Chemists

 

Unit 6, 19 Stable Walk, E1 8EJ

9.30am–7pm

Sinclairs

 

50 Ben Jonson Road, E1 3NN

9am–7pm

Green Light Pharmacy

 

Harford Health Centre, E1 4FG

9am–7pm

The Old Maids Pharmacy

 

321 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AH

9am–7pm

Florida Pharmacy Ltd

 

307 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AH

9am–7pm

Britannia Pharmacy

 

80 Roman Road, E2 0PG

9am–7pm

Tower Pharmacy

 

50 Wapping Lane, E1W 2RL

9am–7pm

Massingham

 

197-199 Roman Road, E2 0QY

9am–6.30pm

Borno Chemists - Bethnal Green

 

204 Cambridge Heath Road,  E2 9NQ

9am–7pm

Columbia Pharmacy

 

104 Columbia Road, E2 7QB

9am–6.30pm

Bee Pharmacy

 

517 Hackney Road, E2 9ED

9am–7pm

Chrischem

 

578 Mile End Road, E3 4PH

9am–6pm

Nash Chemist

 

817 Commercial Road, E14 7HG

9am–7pm

Forward Pharmacy

 

648 Mile End Road, E3 4LH

9am–7pm

Lincoln Pharmacy

 

124 St. Pauls Way, E3 4QA

9am–8pm

Order a rapid lateral flow test online

An alternative option is to order rapid lateral flow tests online: you can use this service to order free packs of lateral flow tests to be sent directly to your home.

You are permitted to order one pack per day (one pack contains seven tests)

You can use this service if:

  • you do not have coronavirus (COVID) symptoms
  • you’re 11 or older
  • you have not been told to self-isolate
  • you cannot get tests from your work, school, college or university (ask them for rapid lateral flow tests).

More information about taking a rapid test at a testing centre

Confirm your booking

To confirm your booking, you will need to tell us your name and contact details (telephone and email address).

You will also need to give some more details to be registered on the government testing website.

This lets you get your results quickly and get further instructions if you test positive.

Wear a face mask

  • You must wear a face mask or face covering when you're at the centre, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse in accordance with the latest government guidelines.

  • If you don't, you will be turned away without a test. You must also keep 2 metre social distancing while you wait for your test.

Can you bring other people to get tested?

  • If you want to go to the test centre with other household or family members, you should book tests for those people as well.

  • There is no age limit on the people that can be tested.

  • Children under 16 must be accompanied and the test for younger children must be done by the parent.

What do you do when you get to the test centre?

  • Please arrive between 10 and 20 minutes before your appointment time. You may need to queue for a few minutes when you get there.

  • Bring your smart phone or other device with you. You will be given a QR code. You will need this to register your test on the government website.

  • You will be helped to do this by the test centre attendants. The government website will then give you a bar code which you need before the test.

How do you take the test?

  • You will be guided to a testing booth. After you have shown your bar code you will be handed a swab to take the test.

  • This is a self-administered test.

  • The attendants are not permitted to physically help you do it. You will need to use the swab to collect samples from your throat and then your nose.

  • Once this has been done, the swab is put into a tube for testing. The bar code will be used to identify that the test sample has come from you.

  • After that's done, you can leave.

  • Once your test is completed please leave the area around the test centre and go home. Your test results will be given to you and not to the test centre.

How long does it take to get the test results?

  • Test results generally take between 30-60 minutes to reach you by text message or email. If you do not get your results within two hours, contact telephone number 119.

  • Please do not return to the test centre as they won't be able to help.

What happens after you get the results?

  • If your test returns a positive test you will be asked to book another confirmation test. You can do this through the national system.

  • This test can be done at another test centre in Tower Hamlets or you can register for a home test kit.

  • In the meantime, you must self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus to other people.

Antibody testing

What is antibody testing?

  • An antibody test is a blood test to check if you’ve had COVID 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.

  • You can still get an antibody test if you’ve had the COVID vaccine. This is NOT the test you need to get to see whether you currently test positive for COVID.

What do the results mean?

  • A positive antibody test result means the test detected COVID 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 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 COVID 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 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 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 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.

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 and protecting the vulnerable in our population.