Coronavirus symptoms and testing

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

It's important to remember that if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms you, your household and anyone in your support bubble must:

  • Stay indoors and self-isolate. If you need support to self-isolate, please contact keepscillysafe@scilly.gov.uk.
  • Arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible (and within the first 8 days of having symptoms).

When do I need to get a coronavirus PCR test?

You should get a coronavirus PCR test if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
  • you’ve been asked to by a local council
  • you've been asked to by your doctor or a medical professional (e.g. in preparation for going into hospital for surgery or a procedure)
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project

You can also get a PCR test for someone you live with if they have symptoms. 

Accessing a PCR test on the Isles of Scilly

To access a PCR test, please call our Testing Helpline on 01626 204950.

The helpline is open every day, Monday to Sunday, 8am to 5pm.

You can also email d-ccg.devoncovid19testing@nhs.net to request a PCR test.

If you have booked a PCR test because you are symptomatic, you will be contacted by the Local Incident Response Team who can offer support and answer questions.

If you are on St Mary’s with symptoms a mobile testing coordinator will usually come to you and test you, or a test will be delivered for you to self-administer in accordance with the instructions on the testing kit.

If you are on an off island a test will normally be delivered to you by a designated point of contact on your island. You can then self-administer the test in accordance with the instructions on the testing kit.  The point of contact will arrange to collect your test and transfer it to St Mary's.

Please remember that if you 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.

You are also able to access PCR testing via the national route by visiting this link: http:www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. However, this may take longer than the local route.

PCR Test Results

PCR tests will be collected and sent to Truro for analysis as rapidly as possible and results provided to you by phone or email – this usually takes around 48 hours.

Please ensure you self-isolate whilst waiting for your test results and keep your phone charged so that you can be contacted with your results, or by the Local Incident Response Team or an NHS Test and Trace representative.  

The Local Incident Response Team will undertake some initial security checks before sharing your test result with you. Currently, your results will also be shared with Health Protection South West. In the event that you cannot be contacted by telephone, you will be contacted via email to the email address you have provided. 

You will be advised on what to do next when you are contacted with your test results.

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

If you are visiting the islands and need a PCR test

If you are visiting the islands and require a PCR test, all of the information above still applies, so please read it in full.

National guidance states that if you become symptomatic, or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you must self-isolate immediately and order a PCR test (by following the instructions in the section above). For visitors to the islands, including those here for work purposes, 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 keepscillysafe@scilly.gov.uk, 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 (with any close contacts in your travel party) in your accommodation immediately. This situation may incur additional expenses for accommodation etc. and is worth discussing with your accommodation provider before booking your trip to the islands.

You can find further advice for visitors during the pandemic here.

Rapid Lateral Flow Testing

From 9 April 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 rapid lateral flow testing in one of the following ways:

  • Via the islands' community rapid lateral flow test collection site. The community testing site for the islands is located in the Town Hall and can be accessed via the rear of the building. The testing team is available there between 9am and 11am, Monday - Friday. You can either knock on the door at the back of the Town Hall during these hours and wait to collect a test (please allow some time for the team to prepare and come to the door), or you can email keepscillysafe@scilly.gov.uk to book an appointment to collect a test. If you are unsure about how to carry out a test or want some support then this route is your best option, as you can do a supported test at the testing site. Please email to book a slot if you would like to do a supported test.
  • Via government’s home testing website. You can order tests to arrive at your house by post. Your tests should arrive within a couple of days. Testing involves swabbing your nose and throat. All the instructions will be in the packaging.

What if my rapid lateral flow test result is positive?

If your rapid lateral flow test is positive, please self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test to confirm the result by:

If you have any questions, or if self-isolating will cause you or your family hardship or distress, please contact keepscillysafe@scilly.gov.uk and we will signpost you to the information and financial and welfare support we have in place to keep you and the community safe.

IMPORTANT! If you are symptomatic… 

Please remember that if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, you, your household and anyone in your support bubble must self-isolate immediately and access a PCR test by:

Continue to follow the basic rules

Regardless of whether you have been tested, have been vaccinated or believe the risk to be low on the islands, it is essential that we all continue to follow the guidance, wash our hands, cover our faces, make space and let fresh air into enclosed spaces.

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 keepscillysafe@scilly.gov.uk.