Test and trace - what you need to know



The NHS test and trace service has been introduced so we can return to normal life as quickly as possible, in a way that protects us all.

The Service will trace the spread of the virus, isolate new infections and play a vital role in giving an early warning if the virus is increasing, locally or nationally

Test and trace ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus.

It will also trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

By playing your part through the actions set out below, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread. This means that, thanks to your efforts, we will be able to go as far as it is safe to go in easing lockdown measures.

You can help in the following ways:

  • if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
  • if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
  • if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so

GOV.UK has helpful information about how to get tested, eligibility, how to self isolate and specific situations.

The Waltham Forest Local Outbreak Control Plan

As part of the wider national Test and Trace programme, Local Authorities have been asked to develop Local Outbreak Control Plans.

The Waltham Forest Local Outbreak Control Plan sets out our approach to preventing, identifying and managing any local outbreaks.

I don’t feel well, I’m not sure if it’s COVID-19

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms, you should promptly get advice from the ​NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
Having checked my symptoms, I think I might have COVID-19, what do I do?

Immediately self-isolate and arrange to get yourself tested at or call 119 if you have no internet access.  
What do I do while I’m waiting for my test/results?

While you wait to be tested and to get your results you should remain isolated.

Anyone else in your household should also self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. Studies have shown people can have the virus for up to two weeks without symptoms.

Also tell people you've been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus. 
If you test negative for COVID-19

If the test comes back negative, you and other members of your household no longer need to self-isolate. 
If you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for the virus you must continue to self-isolate for ​at least 7 days​ from when your symptoms started.  

Members of your household must complete 14 days of self-isolation from when you first showed symptoms.

Find more information on how long you need to self-isolate through the NHS website.

What happens next?

Within 24 hours of testing positive for COVID-19 you will receive a text or email alert from NHS Test and Trace.

Tracing everyone who may have been in direct contact with someone with COVID-19 is an essential part of stopping the spread of the virus.

The text or email will contain instructions on how to share details of the people you have been in close, recent contact with.

This includes your family or other people you live with, as well as people you have been in direct contact with, or within 2 metres of, for more than 15 minutes.

You will also need to advise them of places you have recently visited.

The information you provide will be handed over via a secure website. If you don’t have internet access you will be called by one of the 25,000 contact tracers.

The service will be using a single phone number which is: 0300 013 5000

The contact tracing team will use the information you provide to alert those most at risk of having the virus that they need to self-isolate. No one contacted as a result of you testing positive for coronavirus will be told your identity. 
I feel fine, but NHS Test and Trace have told me I’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19

Testing and tracing is key to combatting the spread of covid-19.

If you're told that you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus you will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person.  

Do not leave your home for any reason, if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at your home.

Do other people in my household also have to self-isolate?

People you live with do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms.

However, if you live with someone at higher risk from coronavirus, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days while you are self-isolating.

If that is not possible, you can find ​advice on how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with through the NHS website.

If you subsequently feel you may be developing symptoms, you should promptly get advice from the ​NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
I will not be able to work if I self-isolate, what help is available?

If you are self-isolating because of COVID-19 you can claim Statutory Sick Pay, £95.85 per week, up to 28 weeks.

If you are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay for example 

  • if you are self-employed
  • or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week

And you are advised to self-isolate, you can make a claim for Universal Credit

If you are self-employed, your local authority may be able to support your business through their hardship fund.

Find more information on how Waltham Forest can help through financial assistance for residents

Information on the full range of financial support available to self-isolating individuals and businesses is available on the ​HM Treasury website.

Will I only need to self-isolate once?  

Not necessarily.

Given the risks of exposure to different people with COVID-19, you could be asked to isolate on more than one occasion.