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NHS Test and Trace

NHS Test and Trace

NHS Test and Trace is a national programme which ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of Covid-19 can be tested quickly. It also helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and notify them so that they can stay at home (self-isolate) and help stop the spread of the virus.

How NHS Test and Trace works

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you must immediately self-isolate and ask for a coronavirus test through the NHS or by calling NHS 119.

You must take the following steps if you have coronavirus symptoms or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told that you have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19:

1.  If you have one or more symptoms of Covid-19, which are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell, you must immediately self-isolate.

2.  You then must book a test through NHS.UK or call NHS 119. Testing is available for anyone who has symptoms. Children under the age of five will need a clinical assessment first. Please call your GP or NHS 111 to arrange this.

3.  If you test positive, you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace who will help you identify who you have been in close contact with and will ask you for their contact details. You must isolate for 10 days. People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 10 days, even if they do not have symptoms.

A test for Covid-19 usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

By playing your part, you will directly help to contain Covid-19. Testing not only protects you, but your friends and family.

How is being a contact defined?

A close contact is a person who has been in close and recent contact to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 while they were infectious. These are the people who NHS Test and Trace will contact to advise them they have been close to someone who has tested positive and give them advice to self-isolate to contain potential further cases of the virus.

Close contacts include:

  • Household contacts
  • Sexual partners
  • A person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre) with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This includes being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation within one metre, having skin-to-skin physical contact, or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • A person who has been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes
  • A person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for Covid-19

How the NHS Test and Trace service will contact you

You will be contacted by email, text or phone.

Text messages will come from  'NHStracing' and calls will come from 0300 0135000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian’s permission to continue the call.

You will be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website

How to spot fake contact tracers

The NHS Test and Trace service (also known as contact tracers) will never ask you:

1. for bank details or payments

2. for details of any other accounts, such as social media

3. to set up a password or PIN number over the phone

4. to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

5. for anyone to visit you at home

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolating means staying at home to prevent spreading Covid-19 to other people and the wider community, particularly those at increased risk such as the elderly and people with existing health conditions.

When self-isolating, you must remain at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.

Nobody should go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home.

You should also avoid contact as much as possible with other members of your household.

More advice on self-isolation and specific circumstances is available on the government website.

From Monday 28 September it became a legal requirement to self-isolate if you or someone you have been in close contact with test positive for Covid-19.

You need to self-isolate if you:

  • Test positive for Covid-19
  • Live in the same household as someone who has tested positive
  • Experience symptoms of Covid-19 and are in the process of arranging a test
  • Are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and informed that you have been in recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19
  • Arrive in England from a country that requires you to self-isolate

How long to self-isolate

If you test positive for Covid-19 you must self-isolate for 10 days, from when symptoms began or if no symptoms, from the date you took the test.

If you live with someone who has tested positive you must self-isolate for 10 days.

If you are informed that you have been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive (who is not a household contact) you should self-isolate for 10 days from your last contact with them and remain alert in case you develop symptoms. If you do develop any of the symptoms of Covid-19, then you must book a test.   

If you return from a country abroad which requires self-isolation on arrival in the UK, you must self-isolate for 10 days.

You must continue to self-isolate, even if you receive a negative test result in this time, this is because you could still be incubating the disease.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate and book a test.

You can book a postal test kit or arrange an appointment at your nearest drive through or walk through testing centre. You should only leave home when self-isolating to get a Covid-19 test and should not use public transport. Tests can be ordered online or by calling 119.

Help when self-isolating

If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online. Delivery drivers should not come into your home, so make sure you ask them to leave items outside for collection.

Support is available from the council for residents self-isolating. This includes support arranging food and medication deliveries. Find out more about support available from the council.

Find out more about the Test and Trace support payment. This is a payment that can be made to eligible individuals who were required by law to self-isolate from 28 September 2020.

Keeping Tower Hamlets safe

The council will support NHS Test and Trace, by responding to any local outbreaks of Covid-19 should they occur.

Our local Covid-19 outbreak control plan, Keep Tower Hamlets Safe, outlines how we will work with partners, including Public Health England, to identify and contain any local outbreaks, using information provided by NHS Test and Trace. 

The plan sets out how we will: 

1. Manage any local outbreaks of Covid-19

2. Quickly and efficiently respond to any patterns of Covid-19 as they emerge

3. Work closely with national and regional partners to ensure everyone who needs a test, has access to one

4. Build trust and confidence among our communities in using NHS Test and Trace

5. Protect our most vulnerable residents and prevent and mitigate any outbreaks within our high-risk settings

6. Ensure any resident who needs to self-isolate, and needs support from the council receives it including residents who are vulnerable and at-risk

Read Keep Tower Hamlets Safe – it aims to protect everyone who lives, works and visits Tower Hamlets.