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Symptoms of COVID-19 and testing

Find out about the main symptoms of COVID-19 and how to get tested.

COVID-19 symptoms

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new persistent cough
  • a change in your sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

Most people with COVID-19 have at least one of these symptoms.

If you’re worried about your symptoms or you're not sure what to do, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. Call 111 if you can’t get help online. Do not go to your GP, the hospital or a pharmacy.

Getting tested

If you or someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, you can book a free NHS test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test. It can only tell you if you currently have the virus, it does not tell you if you have had the virus in the past.

If you are having an operation, you may also be asked to take a test before you go into hospital.

If you do not have internet access, you can call 119 to book a test.

You can choose to take the test:

  • at a drive-through or walk-through test site
  • with a home test kit

Find out more about the different ways you can get tested.

Testing in Lewisham

If you need a test in Lewisham, you need to book an appointment to visit the testing unit or order a home testing kit. 

The mobile testing unit is available every three days at Lewisham Lorry Parks, Catford, London, SE6 2TX (adjacent to Laurence House) open at 10.00.

A mobile testing unit will be in Lewisham on the following dates:

  • Sunday 20 September
  • Wednesday 23 September
  • Saturday 26 September

The local testing is available 7 days a week from 8am-8pm at Vanguard car park in Deptford, offering appointments to people without cars who can safely travel on foot, without coming into contact with others. 

Please book a test before arrival. 

When to ask for a test

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should book a test immediately.

You need to take the test in the first five days of having symptoms. On days 1 to 4, you can get tested at a test site or at home. On day 5, you will need to go to a test site as it will be too late to order a home test kit.

What the test involves

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the test yourself (if you are aged 12 or above) or someone can do it for you. Parents or guardians have to do the test for children aged 11 or under.

Watch a video explaining the process for drive-through testing.

Watch a video explaining how to take a home test.

Testing for care homes and essential workers

You can apply for COVID-19 testing kits to test the residents and staff of your care home.

You can apply even if none of your residents or staff have COVID-19 symptoms.

You can read more about testing kits for care homes on the GOV.UK website.

Employers can refer essential workers for testing if they are self-isolating because either they or member of their household have COVID-19 symptoms. They will then receive a text message with a code that they can use to book a test at a regional testing site.

See the list of essential workers.