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COVID-19 testing in Cheshire - What you need to know

Who can get tested?

Anyone showing coronavirus symptoms is now eligible to book a swab test to find out if they have the virus.

People can register for a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, after checking their symptoms. Those in England and Wales who do not have any access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, are able to ring 119 to book a test.

Anosmia – the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell or taste – was added as a symptom of COVID-19 on May 18th 2020.

This means individuals need to self-isolate immediately – and will be eligible for a test – if they have a new continuous cough, or a high temperature, or feel a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste.

All members of their household must also self-isolate, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.

Testing for essential workers

Essential Workers and members of their household who have symptoms should continue to register for a test through the Self-Referral and Employer Portals on gov.uk. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland retain separate eligibility definitions for essential workers.

Care Homes in England can continue to register for delivery of tests for all their staff and residents, whether or not they have symptoms: https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home.

How to get tested in Cheshire

Testing is currently by appointment only and the correct booking procedures must be followed in order to avoid being turned away.

Satellite testing centres

There are currently two satellite testing centres in Cheshire at the Countess of Chester Hospital and Leighton Hospital in Crewe.

Initially, priority testing was for people with symptoms to see if they have the virus, both to inform clinical diagnosis and help people get back to work.

The Government has since expanded testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to include:

  • Hospital patients suspected of having Covid-19
  • All those working on the frontline in health and social care (with or without symptoms)
  • Patients in the NHS and residents in Care Homes (with or without symptoms)
  • All other essential workers with symptoms
  • Anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • Anyone who goes into work because they cannot work from home (for example, construction workers) and has symptoms
  • All teachers providing face-to-face services to Children (with or without symptoms)
  • Anyone who has symptoms and lives with someone who meets any of the above criteria

Cheshire's satellite testing centres test all these staff groups where the individual/s can travel to the centres. They will also test symptomatic and asymptomatic adults and children when moving between local care facilities. Cheshire's satellite testing centres can test children as young as 2.

The teams can also support outreach swabbing on a case-by-case review. Please note: in this scenario you may need to arrange a clinician or social care worker to take the swab from your patient/client.

To arrange a test at one of Cheshire's satellite testing centre, please email: cheshireccg.covid19@nhs.net

Regional testing centres and home testing

In the North West there are regional testing centres at Manchester Airport, Haydock Racecourse, Preston College and Liverpool.

You can apply for a test directly at one of these sites if you are in one of the groups above. You can select a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit. These testing options are available to over 18s only.

Click here to apply for a test.

Mobile Testing Units

In addition to the local and regional testing options outlined above, mobile testing units, operated by the Armed Forces, are currently travelling to sites around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing.

These mobile testing units are temporary and travel to test essential workers as well as other eligible groups and members of their households.

More information about mobile testing units can be found here.

To book a test at the mobile testing unit, essential workers and other eligible groups can access the government self-referral portal to register and book on behalf of themselves or a member of their household.

NHS Test and Trace

The NHS Test and Trace Service is aimed at identifying and advising people who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Close contact is defined as:

  • Having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)
  • Spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
  • Travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane

NHS Test and Trace contact tracers will always:

  • Call from 0300 013 5000
  • Send text messages from ‘NHS’
  • Ask people to sign in to the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
  • Ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
  • Ask about any coronavirus symptoms
  • Ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the two days prior to symptoms starting
  • Ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England

They will never:

  • Ask for bank details, or payments
  • Ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • Set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • Call from a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

Antibody testing

Antibody testing - to check whether someone has had the COVID-19 virus - is being rolled out across Cheshire, initially prioritising NHS staff. Patients who are already having blood taken as part of other tests may be asked whether they would like an antibody test.

At this stage, antibody testing is primarily useful to understand the spread of the virus. There is no strong evidence yet to suggest that those who have had the COVID-19 virus develop immunity which would prevent them from getting the virus again.

For the test to be effective, it needs to be taken at least two weeks after a suspected COVID-19 infection, otherwise the necessary antibodies will not have built up.