Vaccines, testing and care
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus. This page tells you how to recognise symptoms and what you should do if you have symptoms. It also provides information about testing care workers and people who use care services for the virus.
“The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for frontline community-based social care workers provides a framework for local systems to identify the eligible cohort of care workers in JCVI priority group 2, and the arrangements that should be put in place to enable them to access their COVID-19 vaccination. The SOP is relevant to a range of system stakeholders, including but not limited to Local Authorities, the NHS, key partners such as the CQC, all employers of frontline community-based social care workers and their employees, regardless of the setting in which they work, as well as all providers of vaccination services.
Recognising that the social care workforce is, however, more diverse and dispersed than the healthcare workforce, Local Vaccination Services and Vaccination Centres will also work alongside the hospital hubs to support equitable access to vaccination and take responsibility for enabling COVID-19 vaccine delivery to all individuals within JCVI cohort 2b as set out in the updated Public Health England Green Book 2.
The new SOP on Frontline care workers supports deployment of vaccinations to frontline health and social care workers in priority cohort 2, as identified by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
This SOP outlines the process for facilitating COVID-19 vaccination for frontline social care workers (excluding those working in care homes for older adults) as defined by the JCVI.
It covers those in cohort 2: All frontline social care workers directly working with people clinically vulnerable to COVID19 who need care and support irrespective of where they work (for example in people’s own homes, day centres, care homes for working age adults or supported housing); whether they care for clinically vulnerable adults or children3 ; or who they are employed by (for example local government, NHS private sector or third sector employees).
The SOP includes a table setting out the occupational groups and example roles for social care workers developed by Skills for Care.
Letter from Dr Nikita Kanani and Ed Waller to PCN Local Vaccination Sites, CCG Accountable Officers, NHSE/I Regional Teams, Community Health Provider Chief Executives
“We are therefore expecting all PCN local vaccination services to administer the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to care home residents and staff in the older adult care homes for which the PCN is responsible by the end of this week wherever possible and, at the latest, by the end of next week (Sunday 24th January).
“In order to meet this timeline, this letter is formal notification that you may need to operate in line with the maximum hours stipulated in the Enhanced Services specification, 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week and you should approach your CCG for any support required.”
Covers local vaccination services in community settings including at NHS sites (GP Practices, Community Pharmacies), non-NHS sites, care homes, and patients’ own homes. Updates are highlighted in Yellow on the document.
Letter from NHSEI to All CCG Accountable Officers, All CCG Chairs, All PCNs and all GP practices, All NHS Trust Chief Executives on timing of second dose of vaccinations.
COVID-19 vaccination data reports, including weekly counts and denominators. The first PHE COVID-19 vaccine monitoring data includes:
- weekly national cumulative vaccine uptake for those aged 80 and over; and those aged under 80 years old for the current week
- weekly regional cumulative vaccine uptake for those aged 80 and over; and those aged under 80 years old for the current week
COVID-19 vaccine uptake after 5 weeks of the vaccination programme in England is 34.6% for the first dose and 9.8% for the second dose in those aged 80 years or older.
Public Health England (PHE) are conducting enhanced surveillance of cases of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Clinicians are requested to report any confirmed cases in partially or fully vaccinated individuals.
The vaccine has been approved after meeting the required safety, quality and effectiveness standards.
The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has revised its recommendations on giving the COVID vaccine to women who are (a) pregnant, (b) breastfeeding or (c) trying to conceive. The updated position now advises that breastfeeding women can receive the vaccine and that women do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, pregnant women who have high risk of exposure to COVID or who are at very high risk of serious complications if they caught COVID-19 may be considered for vaccination, provided they discuss the risks and benefits with a clinician.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a statement at the coronavirus press conference. Key dates and points summarised below.
Tocilizumab and Sarilumab to be made available immediately to NHS. These drugs have been found to reduce the risk of death for critically ill patients by almost a quarter, and they’ve cut time spent in intensive care by as much as ten days
Mon 11 January 2021:
- publish full vaccine deployment plan
- publish daily on progress (to date 1.26 million people in England have been vaccinated)
By the end of next week [15 Jan 2021] there will be:
- over 1,000 GP-led sites providing vaccines
- 223 hospital sites
- seven giant vaccination centres
- and a first wave of 200 community pharmacies
By the end of January 2021:
- every elderly care home resident vaccinated.
By 15 February 2021:
Everyone in key groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation should be offered a slot for vaccination by 15th of February for. That’s over 12 million people in England, and 15 million in the UK. Key groups include:
- older care home residents and staff
- everyone 70 or over
- all frontline NHS and care staff
- and all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
These groups account for 88 per cent of all those who have sadly lost their lives.
See also COVID-19 vaccination programme
Change made: ‘Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund – round 2: guidance’ has been updated: providers should ensure that staff who need to attend work or another location for the purposes of being vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 are paid their usual wages to do so, and any costs associated with reaching a vaccination or testing facility.
Vaccination in care homes – key links
All NHS England and NHS Improvement publications on the COVID-19 vaccination programme are available at on the NHS E and I website
This includes the following recent publications:
- Standard operating procedure: COVID-19 local vaccination services deployment in community settings
- Standard operating procedure: COVID-19 vaccine deployment programme hospital hub: care home staff
- Data on numbers of vaccinations
- Summary of Patient Group Directions for the COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech and the Astra Zeneca Covid19 Vaccines
- Patient Group Direction for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
Statement from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about increasing the short-term impact of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination. Change made: Update to footnote 2: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorised in those aged 16 years and over. The AstraZeneca vaccine is only authorised for use in those aged 18 years and over.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent form and letter templates for social care staff. Added letter template for frontline social care staff.
The first people will receive the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine today (4 January 2021) as the NHS expands COVID-19 vaccination programmes across the UK.
Information for frontline social care workers on COVID-19 vaccination. Updated information about vaccination during pregnancy, and scheduling for second dose within 3 – 12 weeks.
Re pregnancy the guidance says:
“… most low risk women should wait until their pregnancy is completed before they are vaccinated. Please speak to your employer about other ways to reduce your risk of COVID-19. Most women who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy do not suffer a more serious outcome than non-pregnant women and will go on to deliver a healthy baby. As more safety data on the vaccine becomes available, this advice may change. If you are pregnant but believe you are at high risk, you may wish to discuss having the vaccine now with your doctor or nurse.”
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination information for public health professionals. Updated: Added revised green book chapter 14a – additional information to reflect the MHRA approval of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine and to reflect updated advice on pregnancy and allergies for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, and the updated statement from the JCVI on scheduling.
Documents relating to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme. Added: Revised COVID-19 vaccination training slide set and Priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination: advice from the JCVI, 30 December 2020.
The 4 UK Chief Medical Officers agree with the JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services. Operationally this will mean that second doses of both vaccines will be administered towards the end of the recommended vaccine dosing schedule of 12 weeks. This will maximise the number of people getting vaccine and therefore receiving protection in the next 12 weeks.
PHE press release. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued its advice on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
As protection is obtained around 2 weeks after the first vaccine dose, the committee recommends that vaccinating more people with the first dose is prioritised above offering others their second dose. This will provide the greatest public health benefits in the short term and save more lives.
The current evidence remains that increasing age is the single greatest risk factor. Therefore, the current recommendation is that groups continue to be vaccinated in the following order:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over, and health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over, and individuals deemed clinically extremely vulnerable
- All those 65 years of age and over
- Adults aged 18 to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years of age and over
Information for healthcare professionals and the public about the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination.
Information for eligible adults on COVID-19 vaccination. Added large print version and product code of braille version.
The latest update to this toolkit includes social media assets from the last week’s vaccination deployment day. It includes:
- Video and images from day 1 of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rollout last week
- Video interviews with June Raine from the MHRA on Andrew Marr show
- A video showing how the Pfizer vaccine is stored at cold temperatures
- Guidance for creating your own content encouraging people to take up the vaccine
- Video where David Pearson, Dr Nikita Kanani and Professor Jonathan Van Tam answer questions about the vaccine for the care sector.
- The vaccine marketing creative now has email signatures available to download. You can download the different versions here for social care workers and care home workers.
Here is a link to GOV.UK. This is where you can download the relevant leaflets for adult social care and COVID-19 vaccine consent forms.
Share case studies about the vaccination programme with DHSC. Email: DHSCExternalAffairs@dhsc.gov.uk.
Information for healthcare professionals and the public about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. This includes changes to section 4.2 and 6 of the Information for UK Healthcare Professionals to provide clarification following further feedback and update to section 4.4 to strengthen information on special warnings and precautions for use. Changes to warnings and precautions and clarification in the Information for UK Recipients.
The majority of the vaccines have been administered to the over-80s, care home workers and NHS staff through more than 70 sites across the UK.
Valneva begins first UK clinical trials for its promising COVID-19 vaccine, being developed in Livingston, West Lothian.
In the UK, there are 2 types of COVID-19 vaccine to be used once they are approved. They both require 2 doses to provide the best protection.
The vaccines do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system. These people may not respond so well to the vaccine. A very small number of people who are at risk of COVID-19 cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies. Women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding should read the detailed information available on NHS.UK.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent form and letter templates for adults who are able to consent. Added open source and MS Word version of the adult consent form.
Information and promotional resources to support the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme. Added revised first phase poster and links to “Get ready” and vaccination session posters.
PHE and DHSC documents relating to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme. This web collection is being updated on a regular basis.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent form and letter templates for social care staff.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent forms and letter templates for care home residents.
Information about COVID-19 eligibility and vaccine supplies.
Information for people who have had their first COVID-19 vaccination.
Information for frontline health and social care workers on COVID-19 vaccination.
Information for frontline healthcare workers on COVID-19 vaccination.
Information for eligible adults on COVID-19 vaccination.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination information for public health professionals. Change made
Added revised green book chapter 14a.
A letter from the Minister for Care to local authorities, directors of adult social services and managers of care homes for older adults.
Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare has worked in partnership with Public Health England and NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop the COVID-19 Vaccination e-learning programme.
The e-learning programme is designed to provide the health and care workforce involved in the national COVID-19 vaccination programme with the knowledge they need to confidently promote high uptake of the vaccine and deliver the vaccine programme effectively.
The programme consists of a core knowledge session and a vaccine-specific session with accompanying assessment sessions for each. More vaccine-specific sessions will be added as and when more COVID-19 vaccines become available and authorised for supply in the UK. Vaccinators should therefore ensure that they refer to any country-specific information available, so they are familiar with the details of the programme for the country they are practising in.
This letter outlines plans for getting the first vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech) to care home staff from the first day that vaccinations are available. It sets out the actions that local authorities and care providers should take in the coming days.
Responding to the COVID-19 vaccine, Kathy Roberts, chair of the CPA says:
“It is right that the people with first priority to the vaccine are those at greatest risk – older people living in care homes. However, we must not lose sight that there is good evidence that certain underlying health conditions increase the risk of morbidity and mortality… The wider adult social care sector continues to support daily many of the people in the high-risk category and who are also on the priority list for the vaccine. For example, people with learning disabilities or autism.
“We want to see a coordinated approach used for the care workforce to make sure that care workers are supported to get the vaccine, so that in turn they can support people receiving care and support to be vaccinated.”
Guidance for healthcare practitioners about the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme.
This document about the COVID-19 vaccination programme is intended for healthcare staff involved in delivering the programme. It includes detailed information on:
- the background of the programme
- the vaccines (as they become available)
- vaccine recommendations and eligibility
- contraindications and precautions
- vaccine administration issues
This document will be updated regularly as more information becomes available.
The DHSC Covid-19 communications toolkit includes a suite of creative content assets for organisations to use about the covid vaccine. The toolkit includes a series of videos on issues such as:
- Vaccine safety, risks and ingredients
- Be ready to be called for your vaccine
- Vaccine prioritisation
- The regulators critical role
- Vaccine safety and testing
- How the vaccine works.
It also includes copy to support sharing the videos on social posts or websites; Vaccine facts cards for social with social copy - covering key information on the vaccines.
DHSC will be updating and adding to this toolkit over the coming weeks and also signposts people to PHE's campaign resource centre where more helpful vaccine related resources will be available as and when they are ready.
Paper prepared by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). Paper by NERVTAG on the concept of an immunity certificate. It was considered at SAGE 69 on 19 November 2020.
Government authorises first COVID-19 vaccine on independent advice of medicines regulator.
The DHSC has said “the vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week. The NHS has decades of experience in delivering large-scale vaccination programmes and will begin putting their extensive preparations into action to provide care and support to all those eligible for vaccination.”
Advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination. This advice is provided to facilitate the development of policy on COVID-19 vaccination in the UK.
JCVI advises that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Secondary priorities could include vaccination of those at increased risk of hospitalisation and at increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services. This document sets out a framework for refining future advice on a national COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
The first COVID-19 vaccine for the UK, developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, has today been given approval for use following a thorough review carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Symptoms of Coronavirus§
People infected with COVID-19 in the past are likely to be protected against reinfection for several months, a Public Health England (PHE) study has found, although experts cautioned those with immunity may still be able carry the virus in their nose and throat and therefore have a risk of transmitting to others.
New strain of Covid-19 reported to World Health Organisation
Estimates of the prevalence and duration of long-COVID symptoms, and rates of adverse events for hospitalised COVID-19 patients compared with those for matched control patients. There has been a number of reports of COVID-19 symptoms extending beyond the acute phase of infection, colloquially termed "long COVID". A range of multiorgan complications following COVID-19 infection – including respiratory, cardiovascular, metabolic and renal impairments – have also been hypothesised among commentators. There is currently a lack of robust evidence on the prevalence of these symptoms or conditions with which to inform government policy and treatment provision. This research strand aims to quantify the prevalence of, and risk factors for, long COVID symptoms following a confirmed or suspected infection. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey is a nationally-representative sample of the UK community population, and data items collected include COVID-19 test results and respondent-reported data on symptoms. To date, the ONS has estimated that:
- Around 1 in 5 respondents testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for a period of 5 weeks or longer
- Around 1 in 10 respondents testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for a period of 12 weeks or longer
A new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified across the South East of England. PHE is working with partners to investigate and plans to share its findings over the next 2 weeks. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the strain has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.
High numbers of cases of the variant virus have been observed in some areas where there is also a high incidence of COVID-19. It is not yet known whether the variant is responsible for these increased numbers of cases. PHE will monitor the impact of this in the coming days and weeks.
It is not uncommon for viruses to undergo mutations; seasonal influenza mutates every year. Variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been observed in other countries, such as Spain.
New data suggests long COVID affects around 10% of 18 to 49 year olds who become unwell with COVID-19.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you should self-isolate at home.
If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started (if you live alone), or 14 days (if you live with someone who has symptoms). You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Care homes across the country will benefit from additional rapid testing to test staff twice a week to help protect residents and workers from the virus.
- Staff in all tiers will receive two rapid tests a week, in addition to the weekly PCR test
- Staff returning from leave or from a shift elsewhere should also have LFD test before shift starts
- Other arrangements eg restricting staff movement, use of PPD, isolating etc still stand
- Care homes in all tiers given access to £149 million grant to support roll out of rapid testing
- New grant will also help care homes in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 meet additional costs associated with visits
- DHSC press release re £149m funding to support extended testing
- Secretary of State speech – 23 December 2020
- Guidance on getting tested
- Care home testing guidance
- Visual summary of care home testing guidance
- DHSC webinar recording about the new policy on testing, recorded 23 December 2020.
- Book to attend a DHSC webinar on care home testing on 29 December 2020.
Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that lateral flow devices (LFDs) used in mass testing can detect the new COVID-19 variant.
All local authorities in Tier 4, Tier 3 and those in Tier 2 at risk of going into Tier 3 are able to apply for additional support through the community testing programme. This page is updated regularly to list all areas offering the community testing programme.
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested. Updated ‘information about testing kits’ and added updated guidance documents ‘graphic summarising testing for care home staff and residents’, ‘care home testing guidance for residents and staff: PCR and LFD (England)’ and ‘how to use PCR test kits’.
Rapid testing kits are being delivered to all care homes in England.
To prepare for visitor testing care homes should:
- decide where their designated entrance or outside dry space will be, for donning personal protective equipment (PPE)
- decide where their testing and results waiting area will be, away from the main area, so visitors can social distance while waiting
- find storage space for the test kits
- take part in a webinar (care homes will receive links by email)
- complete the online training (care homes will receive links by email)
Free PPE for care homes continues until March 2021. To make sure there is enough for the new visiting arrangements, there will be a one-off additional delivery for every Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered home.
To prepare for visitor PPE you should:
- register on the PPE portal if not already done so
- make space inside or outside for donning PPE
- find extra storage space
Community asymptomatic testing helps identify and isolate individuals who have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms. Includes a guide for local delivery. This document is an invitation to local authorities in Tier 3 areas and devolved administrations to work with the UK government to offer community testing in their area. Using rapid response Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), the Community Testing Programme will offer those local areas with the highest prevalence of the virus the opportunity to develop and deploy large scale testing to asymptomatic individuals.
Community asymptomatic testing helps identify and isolate individuals who have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms.
NCF analysis suggests that in December 2020, a 50 bed care home will now be asked to deliver the following tests (assuming a mix of PCR and Lateral Flow Tests):
- 50 Resident PCR tests, administered in the home and sent off to the lab
- 150 Resident Lateral Flow Tests (additional tests), administered and processed within the home
- 400 Staff PCR tests, administered in the home and sent off to the lab
- 400 Staff Lateral Flow Tests (additional tests), administered and processed within the home
- 800 visitor Lateral Flow Tests, administered and processed within the home (additional tests)
“These additions take the total tests to a minimum of 1,800 tests undertaken per care home. … with no additional resource for December onwards, the ‘average 50 bed care home’ will need to administer an additional 1,350 tests per month minimum. Even on extremely conservative estimates about the length of time to manage each test, for example an average 20 minutes, this still adds an additional 450 hours to the testing regime in a single home, or an average of 9 hours additional time on testing per bed of a care home per month. Which if you apply across the 400,000 or so residents of care homes, scales up to a staggering additional 3.6 million hours per month of testing alone, which without additional resource is 3.6 million hours per month which cannot be used to provide care.”
Government information setting out how homecare agencies in England can order regular tests for their homecare staff. NHS Test and Trace is making weekly COVID-19 testing available to all homecare workers in England.
All registered homecare agencies will be contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their homecare workers. Homecare agencies will be responsible for ordering and distributing test kits to all homecare workers for them to conduct at home on a weekly basis.
Homecare worker testing should only be conducted on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (if the homecare worker is able to access a priority post box with Sunday collections).
DHSC will be extending this service shortly to all homecare workers in adult social care, including unregistered organisations, live-in carers, and personal assistants.
Plans to allow care home visiting with appropriate testing plans have been accelerated - and not before time. Recent announcements by the Department of Health and Social Care about testing to support care home visits will provide a structured approach and be welcome news to many care providers’ clients and families. The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) recognises that for some families and providers, these developments will, unfortunately, be too late.
Named family and friends may soon be able to regularly visit loved ones in care homes as a new testing pilot is launched.
A list of local authorities across England issued with rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Guidance for local authorities on how to use your allocation of the Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies. Change to Contact us section for Local authorities and members of the public.
A care home visitor COVID-19 testing pilot scheme is to begin next week (w/c 16 November), Care Minister Helen Whately has told MPs. Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate, Ms Whately (pictured) said 30 care homes would take part in the initial trial on 16 November with plans to roll-out the scheme across the country in December.
How to use your coronavirus (COVID-19) home test kit.
600,000 lateral flow tests to be sent out this week to kick-start the significant expansion of testing, followed by weekly local allocations. Test kits will be issued to over 50 directors of public health across England this week, to enable local teams to direct and deliver community testing based on their local knowledge. Each will receive a batch of 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices as part of a new pilot to enable them to start testing priority groups.
Find out how to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) test in the NHS Test and Trace mass testing scheme. Added information that you can book a test and input a test result using the NHS COVID-19 app. Also added that you can order a home test if you cannot get to a test site, and that people who live more than walking distance from an asymptomatic test site will be sent a home test.
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested. Replaced ‘graphic summarising testing for care homes’ with updated version that reflects that individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should not be included in testing until after 90 days of their initial onset of symptom or, if asymptomatic when tested, their positive test result.
Find out how to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) test in the NHS Test and Trace mass testing scheme. You must answer some questions online before you can book your test.
When you see this question: ‘Is the person who needs a test part of a trial or government pilot project?’, answer ‘yes’.
The UK’s daily coronavirus testing capacity passed the 500,000 mark on Saturday 31 October.
Improvements to the 119 Coronavirus Testing Contact Centre – 2 November 2020 - DHSC
DHSC have changed the way they structure the 119 questions to make the process quicker and clearer for organisations to reach the specialist organisation testing team.
Callers should select the following options to be directed straight to the specialist organisation testing team, after calling 119:
- Select whether if the calls is from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
- Select language requirement for the call
- Select whether to hear what data is captured, or continue
- Callers will then hear the following options:
“If you are calling because you have an upcoming hospital procedure, or from an organisation who receives test kits directly from the national testing programme, press 1, or press 2 to continue”
Press ‘1’ for calling from an organisation who receives test kits. That will get you straight through to the right team
For any questions related to testing, delayed results, or issues with couriers, or need additional test kits before organisations are able to place their next order, then please call the Coronavirus Testing Contact Centre on 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland). Lines are open from 7am –11pm daily.
Findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI show the number of people with antibodies fell by 26.5% over 3 months.
Two criteria that must both be met for Extra Care and Supported Living providers to be eligible for testing. These criteria are:
- A closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people, such as shared livings spaces, kitchens, lounges etc. even where these have been closed during national and local lockdowns, and
- Where most residents receive the kind of personal care that is CQC regulated (rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping).
DHSC has asked LAs to consider this when identifying eligible settings.
DHSC say they are on track to begin allocating testing to priority locations (20% of settings identified by each Local Authority) in the week commencing the 12th October
They will then prioritise high prevalence areas in particular, and for every setting where councils have provided their completed returns on time, they aim to allocate tests to all eligible settings in October.
Extra Care and Supported Living testing webinars have been arranged. They will cover:
- Ordering tests
- Preparing for testing
- Test kit delivery
- The testing process itself
- Testing certain care groups
- Registering completed test kits
- How to send test kits back to labs
- Results and what they mean for organisations.
The session will include a Q&A with representatives from the national testing team, who will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns in the session.
Findings show 1 in 170 people in England had the virus between 18 September and 5 October, with 45,000 new infections every day.
An overview of NHS Test and Trace, including what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Updated to reflect that the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate has changed from guidance to law.
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested. Added ‘students on clinical placements’ to list of essential workers and those prioritised for testing (England only).
NHS Test and Trace has now reached almost half a million people, including those testing positive and their contacts, to slow the transmission of coronavirus in England.
NHS COVID-19 app launches to help control coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. Download the app at https://covid19.nhs.uk/
Privacy notice and data protection impact assessment for the NHS COVID-19 mobile app. Added new and updated privacy notices for national launch of the app, including an updated data protection impact assessment.
DHSC is engaging directly with organisations in the adult social care sector. People who are eligible to request a test will be given details on how to register. Tests are prioritised and even if you’re eligible, you will not get a test immediately. It can take several weeks to be invited to order a test and another 5 days for the test kit to be delivered to your address.
All care home staff are eligible for antibody tests. Care home staff in England and Wales should be tested at an NHS test site where possible. Talk to your care home manager to find your nearest test site.
Stuart Miller has written to care providers to highlight rising infection rates and request action on testing and PPE in all care settings. Key points from the letter incluide:
- portal is now open for care homes for working age adults to register for repeat testing. Care homes that have not yet registered for repeat testing are encouraged to do so
- each care home needs to reorder kits towards the end of each round of testing. Care homes are able to reapply 21 days after their last order
- ensure staff are following the PHE guidance relating to PPE:
- for all care settings: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) illustrated guide for community and social care settings
- for care homes: COVID-19: how to work safely in care homes
- for domiciliary care: COVID-19: how to work safely in domiciliary care in England
- care home and home care providers can use the PPE Portal to order and receive critical coronavirus (COVID-19) personal protective equipment (PPE).
- the Adult Social Care Winter Plan will set out the support and resources we will make available nationally, as well as describing the actions for local areas
The third report from the country’s largest study on coronavirus rates of infection has been published today showing that cases are increasing steadily across the country.
An overview of the NHS Test and Trace service, including what happens if someone tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Updated to add references about local contact tracers with info on how and when they may contact people.
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested. Updated following attachments to reflect updates to the registration portal: ‘guidance on non-Randox testing (England)’ and ‘how to use non-Randox test kits’.
Guidance and spreadsheet to record the details of up to 50 people who you've tested for coronavirus on that day. When registering test kits online, you will now be able to upload up to 50 test kits at once and you will be assigned a unique organisation number to use when using the national testing programme services. This document covers what these changes will look like and what these mean for you, and then walk you through the multiple registration upload portal.
DHSC is encouraging care homes to access testing on weekends when labs are less busy.
A summary of explanatory information to support users of DHSC coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and tracing statistics. Updated to reflect that daily testing statistics will no longer be updated on GOV.UK, and clarifying who gets transferred to contact tracing.
NICE is seeking specialists to join the Diagnostics Advisory Committee for the evaluation of ‘Exploratory economic modelling of SARS-CoV-2 viral detection point of care tests and serology tests’.
This group will explore:
- a viral detection test can be used to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19
- a serology test can be used to determine if someone has previously been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and now has antibodies against the virus.
As outlined in the final scope, the assessment will explore the parameters that are most influential on cost-effectiveness modelling results in different settings.
For full information and details about how to apply, please see the NICE website
The closing date 14 September 2020
A summary of explanatory information to support users of DHSC coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and tracing statistics. Updated to correct an error in how the number of people tested relates to the number of positive cases.
The second monthly REACT-1 report from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI has been published, showing how the virus has spread in England.
National monitoring tool that brings together metrics to assess the wider impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on health. Updated with new data release.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the experience of bereavement much harder than previously and presents additional challenges when seeking to support bereaved people.
The University of Cambridge Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group is undertaking a national survey of a wide range of people who are supporting bereaved people during the pandemic. We would be very grateful if you could complete the anonymous survey which takes less than five minutes to complete.
Closing date 4 September 2020.
Letter from DHSC to Directors of Public Health, copied to Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Authority Chief Executives, Regional NHS Testing Leads and Care Providers. The letter includes an update on the use of Randox test kits and DHSC plans to roll out re-testing to care homes for older people and people with dementia, and all other adult care homes.
Matrix showing how to access tests for staff and clients in adult social care in England. Distributed with DHSC letter issued on 31 July 2020.
The Department of Health and Social Care launched the next stages in its Adult Social Care Testing Strategy on the 3 July. This document outlines the key testing provision within that strategy for residents and staff in care homes. This testing approach applies in England only. This document was updated on 27 July, and distributed with the DHSC letter on 31 July 2020 (see above).
NHS Test and Trace will launch the new campaign alongside a new business plan to expand testing capacity and prepare the nation for winter.
Sets out the next steps in the development of the NHS Test and Trace service and priorities for the next 3 to 6 months.
Coronavirus NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace – updated 22 July – GOV.UK
Government guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers. The guidance has been redrafted for clarity. In addition, there is a new section on collecting customer and visitor data for NHS Test and Trace. The following information has been added to the section headed ‘If a worker develops symptoms and orders a test’: Where an interaction between 2 people has taken place through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not be considered sufficient contact. Contact tracers will not consider the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a mitigation when assessing whether a recent contact is likely to have risked transmitting the virus.
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested. Updated 2 documents in section ‘Documents for care homes using the online application portal’: ‘guidance on Randox testing’ and ‘guidance on non-Randox testing’. These have been updated to reflect changes to clinical guidelines that people testing positive will need to be retested after 6 weeks. The ‘guidance on Randox testing’ document also includes a note to say that Randox test kits should not be used for testing until further notice.
How the DHSC puts together the contact tracing data in its weekly reports. Updated to include more information on how NHS Test and Trace classifies complex and non-complex cases and contacts, and how local test sites are included in turnaround statistics.
NHS Test and Trace has been notified that some test kits produced by Randox laboratories may not meet required safety standards for coronavirus testing. As a precautionary measure and while the issue is investigated further, NHS Test and Trace are requesting that all settings pause the use of Randox test kits with immediate effect and until further notice.
Over 120,000 volunteers tested across England between 1 May and 1 June as part of the country’s largest study into coronavirus. Imperial College London’s research shows the rates of infection fell during May, the last month of lockdown, halving every 8 to 9 days. There were on average 13 positive cases for every 10,000 people, with an overall reproduction number of 0.57 – lower than previously reported. The key findings include: young adults aged 18 to 24 were more likely to test positive; people of Asian ethnicity were more likely to test positive than those of white ethnicity; and care home staff and healthcare workers were more likely to be infected with COVID-19 during lockdown than the general population.
Guidance on the different types of coronavirus test available. Includes information on: Information on: the different types of coronavirus test; which type of test to use and when; what you should do when you receive a test result; and testing in the future.
Staff and residents in care homes for over 65s and those with dementia will receive regular coronavirus tests as part of a new social care testing strategy.
LGA press release says councils have received reports of fraudsters attempting to exploit the system through bogus phone calls, emails and text messages which ask for bank card details to cover the cost of the testing kit. The genuine NHS service is free. Anyone asked these types of questions should report the incident to Action Fraud.
From 7 June 2020 all adult care homes will be able to access whole care home testing for all residents and asymptomatic staff through the digital portal. This includes adult care homes catering for adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and other categories for younger adults under 65 years. The Department of Health and Social care are continuing to explore how they can support other parts of the sector such as those in supported living settings, extra care settings and domiciliary care. Anyone with suspected coronavirus symptoms in these settings can still access testing by self-refer on gov.uk/coronavirus .
Care homes can apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and staff. They can apply whether or not any residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms. There are 2 types of test kits delivered to care homes:
- Randox test kits
- all other types, known as Kingfisher test kits
The test kits look similar and test for whether someone currently has coronavirus in the same way.
Letter from Department of Health to care providers providing preliminary information for care providers – formal guidance will be issued shortly. Under the Test and Trace system anybody who has had a specific “close contact” with somebody who tests positive for COVID19 will be expected to isolate themselves for 14 days, or for seven days from developing symptoms of COVID19. Broadly a “close contact” is spending 15 minutes or more within 2 metres of an infected person, very close specified personal interaction for a shorter period of time or someone who has lived within the same household during a period of potential risk transmission. The letter outlines scenarios relating to care workers and close contact, and what employers should consider..
The Department of Health and Social Care aims to reach all care homes whose residents are over 65 or have dementia by the 6th June. There are still some care homes across England, who are eligible to register via the online portal who have not yet done so. Eligible care homes can access the online portal.
The Department is also hosting a series of webinars each weekday, in the morning and afternoon on the whole home swab testing process. The target audience is care homes. The Department strongly recommends them for care homes about to receive their test kits, but anyone from an eligible care home yet to carry out whole care home testing can attend one. More dates/times are added all the time.
The main objectives of the webinar series are to: outline the end to end whole home testing process, share top tips and provide an opportunity to ask questions. Register online.
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period.
Flow chart on how to get access to COVID-19 tests for care staff, residents and clients. This includes links across to relevant information based on whether or not someone has symptoms and where they work or are receiving care.
If a care home suspects a resident has coronavirus symptoms
You should contact your local Health Protection Team (HPT) if:
- you suspect your care home has a new coronavirus outbreak
- it has been 28 days or longer since your last case and you have new cases
Your HPT will provide advice and arrange the first tests.
For testing in other situations, you should apply for testing kits.
You can apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and staff of your care home. You can apply whether or not any of your residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms.
This testing is currently only available in England. At the moment, you can only get tests if your care home looks after older people or people with dementia.
Related resources on whole care home testing:
- DHSC letter on roll out of whole care home testing – 13 May 2020
- Testing referral form: downloadable Excel form
- Digital portal for care home testing
You can apply for a test if you are:
- an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
- aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
- someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and staff of care homes for older people or those with dementia.
Registered managers can apply whether or not any residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms.
Letter from Helen Whately on plans to ensure staff and residents in care settings is more joined up and that available national capacity is targeted to areas and care homes with the greatest need.
The letter follows on from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commitment (28 April) to offer a coronavirus test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not.
In the coming days, the Government will launch a digital portal for adult social care coronavirus testing, to make arranging tests for care homes as easy as possible. They will also make digital and clinically approved guidance available.
Anyone with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or the loss or change of sense of taste or smell can book a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.
If you’re eligible for a test and you don’t have internet access you can call 119 in England and Wales or in Scotland and Northern Ireland, 0300 303 2713.
Tests for NHS and social care, patients, residents and staff will continue to be prioritised.
Care, including medicines§
Guidance for at-risk groups offered free vitamin D supplements by the government this winter. Added that you should not opt in to receive the vitamin D supplement if you are already taking, or are prescribed, a medication that contains vitamin D by your GP or healthcare professional.
The UK now has access to a total of 357 million doses of vaccines from 7 different developers.
2.7 million vulnerable individuals in England to be offered free winter supply of Vitamin D by government. Deliveries will be made to clinically extremely vulnerable and care home residents from January. There is a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency as these groups have spent more time indoors this year.
Guidance for at-risk groups offered free vitamin D supplements by the government this winter.
Statement from Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on vitamin D supplementation during winter.
Public Health England (PHE) has published new guidance to support frontline workers in delivering the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to the most vulnerable.
The DHSC Covid-19 communications toolkit includes a suite of creative content assets for organisations to use about the covid vaccine. The toolkit includes a series of videos on issues such as: Vaccine safety, risks and ingredients; Be ready to be called for your vaccine; Vaccine prioritisation; The regulators critical role; Vaccine safety and testing; How the vaccine works; Copy to support sharing the videos on social posts or websites; Vaccine facts cards for social with social copy - covering key information on the vaccines.
DHSC will be updating and adding to this toolkit over the coming weeks and also signposts people to PHE's campaign resource centre where more helpful vaccine related resources will be available as and when they are ready.
DHSC has also produced a COVID-19 Q&A for stakeholders. Last updated 26 November 2020.
The post-2 December guidance to the clinically extremely vulnerable has now been uploaded.
Questionnaire on PPE for aerosol generating procedures (AGP)
The safety of the public will always come first.
Pfizer/BioNTech published positive efficacy results from Phase 3 studies of their potential Covid-19 vaccine, showing it to be more than 90% effective in preventing coronavirus in participants.
A government spokesperson said:
“The results from Pfizer/BioNTech are very promising and we have procured 40 million doses of their vaccine. While we are optimistic of a breakthrough, we must remember that there are no guarantees. We will know whether the vaccine meets robust standards of safety and effectiveness once the safety data have been published, and only then can the medicines regulator consider whether it can be made available to the public. Once approved, the NHS stands ready to begin a vaccination programme for those most at risk, as currently recommended by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), before being rolled out more widely.”
If you need support while outside your home, this guide explains what you and the people helping you should do to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance has been updated to reflect the introduction of national restrictions.
You can meet outdoors with anyone in your household or support bubble. You also can meet outdoors with one other person who is not in your household or support bubble. This must be in a public outdoor place.
This limit does not include:
- any children under the age of 5
- if you’re disabled and require continuous care, any carers that are employed or volunteer to support you (up to 2 carers)
This means you and your carers can meet outside with one other person and their carers (providing there are no more than 2 carers per person).
It must be reasonably necessary for anyone who is not in your household or support bubble to provide you with care and assistance.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should reduce social contacts as much as possible. However, if you feel it is essential for your physical or mental health, you can continue to meet with people. This is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.
Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they have a disability, or that they might need help with social distancing.
You may find these resources useful:
Information for shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. Added two reference letters and updated guidance on how to get a test for COVID-19.
The risk of contagion is highest indoors but can be reduced by applying all available measures to combat infection via aerosols. This series of graphics provides an overview of the likelihood of infection in different scenarios.
Guidance for contacts of a person with a positive test result for coronavirus (COVID-19) who do not live with that person. Added updated easy-read guidance.
The Minister for Equalities’ Oral Statement to the House, on the first quarterly report to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary on progress to understand and tackle COVID-19 disparities experienced by individuals from an ethnic minority background.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will receive new guidance to help them reduce their risk from coronavirus, tailored to where they live.
Guidance and information for industry, healthcare professionals and patients covering the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Added guidance on Warfarin
Researchers are calling on more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and the over 65s to volunteer for clinical studies through the NHS Vaccine Registry.
Interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination, if and when a vaccine is available.
Paper prepared by Mark Woolhouse, Bram van Bunnik and Aziz Sheikh.
Information on COVID-19, including guidance on the assessment and management of suspected UK cases. Added COVID-19: long-term health effects to the Management of possible or confirmed cases section.
The government is seeking views on proposed changes to the Human Medicine Regulations 2012. The consultation covers:
- authorising temporary supply of an unlicensed product
- civil liability and immunity
- expanding the workforce eligible to administer vaccinations
- promoting vaccines
- making provisions for wholesale dealing of vaccines
Closing date: 18 September 2020.
Government press release says millions could be vaccinated against COVID-19 as UK secures strong portfolio of promising vaccines. The UK has secured early access to 90 million doses of promising coronavirus vaccine candidates.
The government has launched the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry. This new website will enable people in the UK to play their part by volunteering for future vaccine studies.
The government has immediately authorised the NHS to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death. Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators
Clinicians have the authority to remove patients from the shielded list if, after review, if they feel that he/she is not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.
On 10 April, NHS England wrote to GPs requesting that they review the list for accuracy and identify any additional patients who they feel should be included. The decision to remove a patient from the list should always be a clinical decision. Clinicians have been advised to discuss these decisions with their patients and mark their decision on the IT system.
Where some of these people have been receiving direct support from Government, the DHSC has been following up via text to make it clear that they can still access forms of support including the NHS Volunteers network, and will retain their supermarket priority delivery slots. If a patient has received a text and is unsure of what it means for them, they should contact their clinician to discuss.
The Government has announced a review which will analyse different factors that impact health outcomes from COVID-19. These factors include ethnicity, gender, obesity and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups.
To complement the wider disparity review, a research call by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has jointly called for research proposals to investigate emerging evidence of an association between ethnicity and COVID-19 incidence and adverse health outcomes..
Frontline experience both in the UK and in other countries suggests that many older people may present atypically. This blog outlines the atypical symptoms known so far.
Letter summarising arrangements for COVID-19 testing including:
- Residents at point of outbreak: contact local PHE Health Protection Team who will ensure swab kits are provided and tests are carried out.
- Residents post outbreak: Piloting approach that enables all residents in a care home that has an outbreak and need a test to have access to one. Further information to follow
- On admission from hospital to care home: Patients should be tested before admission. See guidance.
- Pre-admission from other settings: In development. In the interim use local testing arrangements.
- Ongoing surveillance: Some care settings will be invited to swab and test selected residents and staff as part of public health surveillance work
There are two routes through which your staff can be tested. Employers should either:
- use the online employer portal to upload details of those they know are self-isolating. In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email firstname.lastname@example.org with two email addresses that will primarily be used to load frontline worker contact details.
- increase awareness of the employee portal amongst staff so that they can book a test directly for themselves or members of their household if they become symptomatic and are self-isolating. They can book a test through the self-referral service.
Mobile testing units, operated by the Armed Forces, will travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing for frontline workers including care workers. Units will respond to areas of highest demand, travelling to test frontline workers and the most vulnerable at sites including care homes
The government has committed to provide a COVID-19 test to all care workers who need one. This commitment covers all social care staff, including staff and voluntary workers in residential care settings and providing home care support. Frontline care workers in England who would like to be tested should speak to their employer. Tests are currently carried out through a network of drive-through regional testing sites.
The government is also piloting mobile testing units which will travel to offer tests where they are needed, providing kits directly to care homes that have a particularly urgent or significant need.
The Government has commenced a major long-term study to track the spread of Covid-19 in general population. The study will include antibody testing to help understand levels of immunity. The aim is to involve up to 300,000 people to take part over 12 months.
Government announces that all symptomatic care residents will be tested for COVID-19 as testing capacity continues to increase. All patients discharged from hospital to be tested before going into care homes as a matter of course. All social care staff who need a test will now have access to one with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer tests.
First advert from the NHS on COVID-19, published 18 March 2020
New 5-pillar plan outlines national effort to increase testing to 100,000 a day across the UK this month. Includes increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors.
There is no evidence from clinical or epidemiological studies that treatment with ACE-I or ARBs might worsen COVID-19 infection.
Recent media reports have suggested that chloroquine can protect patients from coronavirus or treat COVID-19, the illness caused by a coronavirus. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are ongoing.
FAQs for the public on what they can and can’t do, including exercise, visiting friends, care for pets and animals.
NICE is reviewing the evidence re the use of NSAIDs in treating of COVID-19. In the interim, use paracetamol. Those currently on NSAIDs for other medical reasons (e.g. arthritis) should not stop them.
See all related information on coronavirus.