Follow rules to protect NHS Test and Trace system

People are asked to observe the following important rules on Coronavirus testing to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the NHS Test and Trace system.

  • Don’t book a test if you haven’t got Coronavirus symptoms.
  • Tests must be booked – don’t turn up at a testing unit without an appointment as you won’t be seen.

If you have Coronavirus symptoms, book a test straight away. The main symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste
Test and trace image

You should only get a test if you have one or more of these symptoms, otherwise you could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it.

You should not get a test if you have returned from abroad or are about to travel, you have been in contact with a confirmed case or if another member of your household has symptoms. You may be advised to isolate if you have been in contact with a confirmed case but you should only get a test if you have symptoms.

You can book a test by going online at or by calling 119 – don’t use 111.

The NHS Test and Trace booking system releases testing appointment slots throughout the day, so if you are not able to immediately obtain a local testing appointment, please try again later in the day. Home testing kits can also be ordered, for people who can’t get to a testing site. 

If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, that person must get tested and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them while they wait for the results. 

If you are self-isolating or in quarantine, a negative test result does not mean you can end isolation early. The virus can take time to develop and so a test early on does not prove that you won’t go on to develop the virus. That means you could still be at risk of spreading the disease to other people.

Craig Blundred, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Acting Director of Public Health, said: “The NHS Test and Trace system is now facing a very high demand for tests.

“So while it’s vital that if you have any of the Coronavirus symptoms you book a test right away, it’s equally vital that you don’t put unnecessary pressure on the system by either booking a test if you haven’t got symptoms or by turning up at a testing unit without an appointment."