NHS Test and Trace

The NHS test and trace service will help us return to more normal life, whilst continuing to control the virus. It does this by ensuring that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus applies to be tested to find out if they have the virus, and by tracing close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus. If necessary, contatcs will then be notified and told they must self-isolate at home.

How it works:

For someone with symptoms of coronavirus:

  1. Isolate: as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms
  2. Test: order a test immediately at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.
  3. Results: if your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate.
  4. Share contacts: if you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS test and trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of 25, 000 trained NHS contract tracers.

If you are contacted by the NHS test and trace service:

  1. Alert: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.
  2. Isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home.
  3. Test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 7 days and we will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet - this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

What to expect:

The NHS test and trace service will use text messages, emails or phone calls using the phone number: 0300 013 5000. All texts or emails will ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website. All information you provide to the NHS test and trace service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

NHS contact tracers will:

  • call you from 0300 013 5000
  • send you text messages from ‘NHS’
  • ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
  • ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
  • ask about the coronavirus symptoms you have been experiencing
  • ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the 2 days prior to your symptoms starting
  • ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of Englan
  • alert your contacts and ask them to self-isolate

Avoiding fraud:

Sadly, some sick people are using the coronavirus crisis to commit fraud, contact people claiming to be on behalf of the Government or the NHS to obtain private personal data or banking details. There are key signs of fraud and people should be vigilant as the police continue to take action.    

NHS contract tracers will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
  • provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

See Also

Public health advice

Throughout Phase 2 people need to minimise the spread of the disease through continuing good hygiene practices: hand washing (for 20 seconds), social distancing (2m or 1m plus) and regular disinfecting of surfaces touched by others. These will be in place for some time.