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Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Updated Friday 18 September 2020

The UK government has established a network of Covid testing facilities. This programme runs alongside the existing programme of testing in the NHS for clinical purposes and testing of key workers in health and social care.

Testing will allow symptomatic key workers and their household members to know whether or not they have the virus. This will in turn keep essential services running.

Testing under the UK programme in Scotland is currently conducted in drive-through sites operating at:

  • Glasgow Airport
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Aberdeen Airport
  • University of the Highlands and Islands campus in Inverness

These facilities are run by private sector organisations on behalf of the UK Government. This guidance will be updated as additional testing capacity is deployed on Scotland.

A limited number of home test kits is also available.

Who can be tested?

Anyone in Scotland who is self-isolating becuase they are howing symptoms can be tested. 

A level of priority for testing appointments will be maintained for key workers and their household members to support them returning to work where it is safe to do so. 

The definition of key workers includes those working in food production, distribuition and sales. 

When to get tested

You should get tested in the first 3 days of coronavirus symptoms appearing, although testing is considered effective up until day 5.

No testing should be undertaken after day 5, unless it’s for a specific reason which will be agreed on a case by case basis by local microbiologists.

If you are self-isolating because a person you live with has symptoms, you can refer them for testing. By testing the household member(s), we can be much more certain that you should either be self-isolating or can return to work.

Negative tests and returning to work

Even if a key worker has had a negative result, it’s important to still apply caution. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in their household receive a negative result, the employee can return to work if their work cannot be done from home, providing they are well enough, and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

If, after returning to work, they develop symptoms they should follow the NHS Inform guidance and self-isolate. Employees should discuss their return to work with their employing organisation.

Booking a Test

Employer portal

A new website has been established to improve the process of booking tests. This website is experiencing high volumes of demand and access is being carefully regulated to ensure the systems can continue to function effectively. Eligible employers can register and refer staff for appointments or eligible key workers will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household.

Obtain a login for the employer referral portal

To get a login, employers of key workers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk You must supply two email addresses that will primarily be used to load key worker contact details. Once employer details have been verified, two login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal.

Employers should then login at https://coronavirus-invite-testing.service.gov.uk/ to make referrals.

Self-referral Portal

Individuals can also use the self-referral portal to sign up provided they are a key worker and they, or a member of their family, is symptomatic.

Key workers who have completed a self-referral may have the option, depending on available capacity, to book a home-test kit.

Home test kits are an option where key workers are unable to attend a drive-through centre. The home test option is covered in the booking process.

Go to the self-referral portal at: https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

Citizens’ Portal

If you, or a member of your household have symptoms you can choose whether to attend one of the testing sites in Scotland or, subject to availability, to have a home testing kit delivered to your home.  We recommend that you do not travel more than 90 minutes to reach a testing site. If there is not a site near to you, then you should try to book a home testing kit. Guidance on tests for children is available on the booking system. 

Go to the Citizens' Portal at: https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test

Further Information

For more detailed information on the key worker testing programme, visit the Scottish Government information page

Please also see the guidance from the Scottish Government on who can access the expanded testing programme.