What happens when you get a test and trace call?

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

The coronavirus test and trace system was launched across England on Thursday, in an effort to identify those who could potentially have Covid-19.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by the 25,000-strong, newly-hired NHS test and trace team. Those who have been identified as being in close contact with someone who has Covid-19 must stay at home for 14 days.

The new system has been touted as a key instrument in helping ease lockdown, but it has already encountered various problems.

For instance, the accompanying contact tracing app has been delayed by several weeks and the Department for Heath admitted “some staff initially encountered issues logging on to their systems”.

  • What happens if you're identified as a contact?

You will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. The government has said it's essential you stay at home, even if you aren't displaying symptoms. This is because it's possible to have coronavirus without showing any symptoms.

If you do develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately for 14 days and you must book a test. If your test is positive, you have to continue to stay at home for at least seven days. The test and trace team will get in touch to ask about your contacts, since they must also self-isolate.

If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus can take some time to become detectable.

  • How will you be contacted if you need to self-isolate?

The service will contact you by text message or email, but will follow up by phone if they don’t get a response. You will then be directed to the NHS test and trace website. Here, you'll find more information on the system.

  • How will you know if a phone call from test and trace is legitimate?

Not knowing how to discern a dishonest contact tracing message is a common concern. The NHS test and trace team will only ever call you from 0300 013 5000 and send you text messages from ‘NHS’.

They will never ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting with 09 or 087).

A legitimate test and trace message will ask for your full name, date of birth and post code. You won't be asked for any personal details besides this (e.g. bank account details, passwords, pins, social media details). Also, contact tracers won't ask you to make any form of payment or buy a product.

  • How do I warn my contacts if I have tested positive for coronavirus?

You must self-isolate, along with anyone in your household, if you haven't done so already.

Once you test positive for coronavirus, the test and trace service will text, email or call you with instructions on how to share details of people you have had close, recent contact with. You will be told to do this online or over the phone.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know