Coronavirus symptoms and testing

[Updated 10 January 2022]

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you're getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they're sent to a lab to be checked
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a result in 30 minutes using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Both tests are free.

See below for details of both types of testing and how they can be accessed on the Isles of Scilly.

PCR Testing

If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms at any time, you must: 

  • Stay indoors and self-isolate. If you need support to self-isolate, please contact
  • Arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible.

For the latest guidance on when you should get a PCR test, please visit the government website.

Accessing a PCR test on the Isles of Scilly 

You can order a free PCR test from the government website or call 119 to request a test via the national route. Your testing kit will be posted to the address you provide when ordering and you must follow the instructions on the test kit packet carefully.

The Post Offices on all of the islands can now accept PCR tests via designated postboxes in support of the national testing route. You should post your test kit on the day you take the test and no later than an hour before last collection.

Please note that our local testing team will not be made aware of the test results from PCR tests posted via the national route. Instead, you will receive your test result via whichever contact method you chose when registering your test kit.

If you need support to access or administer a PCR test, or have any queries relating to coronavirus and cannot find an answer on the government website, please either:

  • call 07955 434608 from 9.30am to 2pm, Monday to Friday or 9.30am to 11.30am on Saturdays


Please remember that if you are symptomatic and need to get a test on the Isles of Scilly, you must not visit the pharmacy, health centre or hospital on St Mary's as you may inadvertently spread the virus. If you need medical advice while you wait for your test result, please contact your GP or call 111.

In the event that you receive a negative PCR test result but continue to experience symptoms, you should email for further advice relating to testing and isolation and contact your GP by phone or video for health advice.

The full list of reasons for accessing a PCR test can be found on the government website. The above advice applies to all but one of these reasons: if you have been asked to take a test because you are going into hospital.

Accessing a PCR test on the Isles of Scilly if you’re going into hospital

If you need to get a PCR test because you’re due to have surgery or another medical procedure, the health team will normally be able to carry out the test locally and will contact you to arrange this. 

Self-isolation following a positive PCR test

Please remember that anyone who receives a positive PCR test result is required by law to self-isolate immediately. You will be informed of any further steps you need to take based on your test result. 

Advice on when to self-isolate and what to do can be found on the NHS website. If you need additional support in order to self-isolate, please email

If you are visiting the islands and become symptomatic, or need to self-isolate and get a test for another reason

If you are visiting the islands and become symtpomatic or require a PCR test for another reason, all of the information above still applies, so please read it in full. You must follow these instructions even if you are due to leave the islands imminently, in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

For visitors this would mean self-isolating in your accommodation on the islands for the duration of the self-isolation period unless otherwise notified by either the Council, Public Health or NHS Test and Trace following a full risk assessment of the situation. You can help protect our resources on island by planning ahead and making sure you have everything you need in the event you are asked to self-isolate on the islands. However, if you find yourself in need of something during your self-isolation period, you MUST stay in your accommodation and contact the Local Incident Response Team for support. You can do this by emailing, or calling the Council enquiries team on 0300 1234 105 (option 5), who will ask a member of the LIRT to call you back.

In addition to the advice above, you must also:

  • Inform your accommodation provider that you are self-isolating immediately.
  • Use your Isles of Scilly accommodation address and postcode (TR21, TR22, TR23, TR24, TR25) when requesting a test.
  • Keep your phone charged so that you can be contacted with your results and/or by the NHS Test and Trace System. If you have no mobile reception and no access to email in your accommodation, you must ensure you can safely access and relay messages from our Local Incident Response Team and NHS Test and Trace via your accommodation provider or another on-island contact. These arrangements should be established as soon as you become aware that you cannot be contacted easily.
  • Bear in mind that if you become symptomatic when you are due to leave the islands you must still request a PCR test and self-isolate in your accommodation immediately. Contacts identified within your travel party may also be required to self-isolate if asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace. This situation may incur additional expenses for accommodation etc. and is worth discussing with your accommodation provider before booking your trip to the islands.

If you test positive for coronavirus during your stay: in exceptional circumstances, it may be agreed that the best course of action would be to evacuate you (and potentially other members of your travel party) to the mainland. Any decision to evacuate would be made following a full risk assessment of each case by Public Health. Please refer to our Evacuation from the islands during the coronavirus pandemic page.

We have produced a separate page of general advice for those visiting the Isles of Scilly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Arriving in England (which includes the Isles of Scilly) from abroad

If you are arriving in England (which includes the Isles of Scilly) from abroad, separate guidance applies and you should consult the government's coronavirus advice webpages well ahead of making your travel arrangements. 

Rapid Lateral Flow Testing

Everyone in England, including those without symptoms, is able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Getting regular tests is the only way to know if you have the virus.

How do I access regular rapid lateral flow testing?

On Scilly, you can access a rapid lateral flow home testing kit in one of the following ways:

  • Via government’s home testing website. You can order tests to arrive at your house by post. All the instructions will be in the packaging.
  • Via the pharmacy on St Mary's. One person can collect enough rapid lateral flow tests for 4 people from the pharmacy on St Mary's by attending in person. Please do not come to the pharmacy if you are experiencing symptoms. Off-island residents can call the pharmacy on 01720 422021 in order to arrange for delivery to the off-islands if necessary. Stock is being replaced on a regular basis, but it is advised that if you are aware you will need rapid lateral flow tests on a particular day, you should aim to collect them a few days in advance. 
  • Via Keep Scilly Safe: email to arrange to collect a test, or arrange to meet a member of the team to deliver one to you and show you how to administer the test.

What if my rapid lateral flow test result is positive?

If your rapid lateral flow test is positive, please self-isolate immediately and read the latest guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

If you have any questions, or if self-isolating will cause you or your family hardship or distress, please contact and we will signpost you to further information and support.

IMPORTANT! If you are symptomatic… 

Please remember that if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate immediately and access a PCR test.

Further information

If you have any questions relating to testing or other coronavirus arrangements on the islands at any time, please do not hesitate to contact