There are two main types of Covid-19 tests. The first is symptomatic testing, also known as a PCR test. This is for people who are showing symptoms.
The second is non-symptomatic testing, for anyone aged 18 and over who is not showing any symptoms of having Covid. This type of testing is often called lateral flow testing, or rapid testing.
If you do have any of these symptoms:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You must not visit our rapid test site or pharmacies. Instead follow the information about symptomatic testing.
How to book a test
Covid-19 symptomatic (PCR) testing site
Non-symptom testing (lateral flow test)
The council is offering free, rapid-turnaround Covid-19 tests for people who live and work in Islington.
Rapid tests help to identify anyone who unknowingly has the virus, and enables those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, stopping the spread of the virus.
On site testing
Rapid tests take around 15 minutes to do at our testing site:
- Arsenal Community Hub (
Results are sent to you usually within two hours of leaving the testing site via text or email.
Check the interactive map to find your nearest testing site, and please visit the closest site to you with available appointments. If the nearest test site is in another borough, visit that council's website to book a test.
Collect a testing kit
Testing kits can be collected from our rapid testing site in Islington, or from 222 Upper Street, 10am-2pm, Monday - Friday. There’s no need to book an appointment if you’re collecting a home testing kit, just remember to wear a face covering over your mouth and nose while you’re on site. Up to two kits can be collected at a time, one for you and one for someone else. Each kit contains enough tests for three weeks.
Selected pharmacies are also offering a collection service for home testing kits.
Request a test is posted to you
Home testing kits can be sent direct to your home address. Order a home testing kit.
If you test positive, you may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.
For more information of what to do if you receive a positive lateral flow test read our FAQs.
Who can get tested
The rapid tests (lateral flow tests) are specifically for asymptomatic people (people who don't have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 - a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste).
With a national lockdown in place, everyone should be staying at home as much as possible to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you are a key worker and you need to leave home to work in a critical role, we would like to invite you to get a free, rapid test at one of our locations.
Examples of critical workers include:
- those working in health or social care, education and child care including social workers
- government or council staff involved in the covid response
- charities and workers delivering key frontline services
- those involved in food production, distribution and sale
- police, fire and rescue services
- transport staff
- those working in utilities such as gas, electricity and water supply
- postal services
- those working in waste disposal.
A full list of key workers can be found on the government website.
It is vital that people with symptoms do not come to the centre for a rapid test. If you develop symptoms, you should book a PCR test. For more information on this, visit the NHS website.If you have received a positive PCR (test for those with Covid-19 symptoms) test result for Covid-19, we recommend you don’t get tested at our rapid (non-symptom) test sites for 90 days following the test date. A positive test within this 90-day period is more likely to be connected to your previous infection and not a new infection, so this new guidance helps reduce the risk of you having to isolate unnecessarily. If you get new Covid symptoms during this time, you should immediately isolate and book a test on Gov.UK or by calling 119. Once the 90 days have passed, please start again to have regular non-symptom rapid testing.
This advice currently applies if your positive result was from a PCR test and not from a test at our rapid (non-symptoms) sites.
Why should I get tested?
We know that around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but can still pass the virus on. These rapid tests aim to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could unknowingly spread the infection to others. Identifying and supporting infectious people to isolate before they develop symptoms will help reduce spread, and protect the vulnerable.
We hope that many people will recognise the benefits and take up the offer of getting a rapid test.
Where can I get tested?
Do I need to book a test?
Both sites also have a drop-in service, for those without a booked appointment. If you have a smartphone with you it will be quicker to register you on site. If it gets busy, there will be a Covid-secure queueing system outside, with social distancing in place, managed by building security.
You will need a mobile phone with text messaging capabilities or an email to receive your results.
How does the rapid test work?
It involves a throat and nose swab with results analysed inside the building (not a laboratory). Results are ready very quickly. You will receive your results by text or email after you leave the test centre, usually within 2 hours.
You need to leave the test site once you have undertaken your test. Get another rapid swab test if you do not get your result within 12 hours.
Results are taking longer to come through at the moment, while the centralised system is handling a high number of tests from school pupils, teachers and parents. There is no impact on wait times at our sites; just on the time it takes for results to be sent out.
What do I do if I test positive?
If you get a positive result you and anyone you live with must self-isolate immediately. Get a symptom test (PCR test) within two days to confirm and self-isolate until you get the result. You will be given advice on what to do next when you receive your result.
Within two days means the symptom test (PCR) should be taken on the day the no-symptom test was taken, the next day, or the following day.
Can I get financial help if I test positive?
Eligible individuals who test positive will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace. Please note the government has provided eligibility criteria for this payment. Find out more and apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment.
What happens if I test negative?
You will continue to follow the preventative measures currently recommended for stopping the spread of the virus.
To protect yourself and others, you must remember:
- Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.
You need to follow the coronavirus restriction in your local area.
If my result is negative, can I go and visit friends and family?
Rapid Covid-19 tests reduce the risk of spreading of infection. A negative test using a rapid test does not eliminate the risk of Covid-19 transmission. If you have a negative test result it does not change the current rules we all need to follow during local restrictions.
You need to follow the coronavirus restriction in your local area.
How many tests can I have?
We advise you get tested regularly. Please wait at least five days between your tests.
If you get a positive result to a symptom-free test, you must self-isolate and book a PCR test via the government website to confirm you have the virus. The message you get with a positive result may not automatically tell you to do this.
It is important that you complete the PCR test and return it according to the instructions.
How does it work with the NHS Test and Trace app?
Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing. NHS Covid-19 app users should input their results into the app.