Most people no longer need to take a coronavirus test. To prevent the spread of infection, you should try to stay at home if unwell. Testing is still available to specific groups.
Coronavirus, and other respiratory infections such as flu, can spread easily and cause serious illness in some people. Vaccinations are very effective at preventing serious illness from coronavirus. But there's still a chance you might catch coronavirus, or another respiratory infection, and pass it on to other people.
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as coronavirus and you:
- have a high temperature or
- do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities
Try to do this until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you feel better.
Symptoms of coronavirus include:
- continuous cough
- high temperature, fever or chills
- loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
- shortness of breath
- unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
- not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- headache that's unusual or longer lasting than usual
- sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- feeling sick or being sick
How to help your symptoms
- drink fluids like water to keep yourself hydrated
- get plenty of rest
- wear loose, comfortable clothing – don’t try to make yourself too cold
- take over-the-counter medications like paracetamol – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Antibiotics will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.
You might continue to have a cough or feel tired after your other symptoms have improved. This does not mean that you're still infectious.
Urgent advice: Speak to your GP if:
- your symptoms worsen
- you're concerned about your symptoms
- you have symptoms that you can no longer manage at home
- you're worried about your child, especially if they're under 2 years
If your GP is closed, phone 111. In an emergency phone 999.
People at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from a respiratory infection, including coronavirus
People who are at higher risk from coronavirus and other respiratory infections include:
- older people
- those who are pregnant
- those who are unvaccinated
- people of any age whose immune system means they're at higher risk of serious illness
- people of any age with certain long-term conditions
The risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus and other respiratory infections is very low for most children and young people.
Some children aged under 2 years, especially those with a heart condition or born prematurely, are at increased risk of hospitalisation from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Most people in Scotland no longer need to test for coronavirus.
If you have received a positive test result and have been self-isolating, you do not need to continue with any further testing unless you have been advised to do so by a health professional.
For most people, you do not need to have a negative test result to end self-isolation, follow the stay at home advice.
You can still access testing if:
- you have a health condition which means you’re eligible for new coronavirus treatments
- you work in a NHS health or social care patient facing role and have symptoms
If you're a health and social care worker, you should access testing through your organisation if you have symptoms and follow the advice for returning to work on staff testing in NHS Scotland.
When you enter a Scottish postcode, the online order form will say ‘Most people in Scotland can no longer get free rapid lateral flow tests.’ Click 'Continue' if you’re eligible and you’ll be able to order.
Stay at home advice
There are things you can do to reduce the spread of infection if you have symptoms, have tested positive, or are a close contact.
If you aren't eligible for testing and you have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as coronavirus and have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Try to do this until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you feel better.
If you have a positive coronavirus test result, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test, or from the day your symptoms started (whichever was earlier). You should count the day after you took the test as day 1.
If a child or young person aged 18 or under has a positive coronavirus test result, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test or from the day their symptoms started (whichever was earliest), if they can. Children and young people tend to be infectious for less time than adults.
If you've had a positive test result, and have completed 5 days of self-isolation
Although many people will no longer be infectious to others after 5 days, some people may be infectious to other people for up to 10 days from the start of their infection.
If you have a high temperature or still feel unwell after the 5 days, continue to try to stay at home. Try to stay at home until you:
- feel well enough to go back to normal activities
- no longer have a high temperature (if you had one)
This will help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
You should avoid meeting people at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus, especially those whose immune system means that they are at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus for 10 days after the day you took your test.
How to reduce the spread of infection
- work from home if you can – if you can't, talk to your employer about your options
- if you've been asked to attend a medical or dental appointment in person, tell them about your symptoms or positive test
- ask friends, family or neighbours to get food and other essentials for you, if you wish
- keep your distance from the people you live with if you can
- ventilate rooms you have been in by opening windows and leaving them open for at least 10 minutes after you have left the room
- wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask if you do leave home or in shared areas in your home, especially if you live with someone with a weakened immune system
- regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms
- if you do leave home, exercise outdoors in places where you will not have close contact with other people
- cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, and before you eat or handle food
- tell people you have recently been in contact with that you're feeling unwell or have tested positive so they can be aware of symptoms
- tell anyone who needs to come into your home that you have symptoms or have tested positive so they can protect themselves
- do not have close contact with anyone who is at higher risk, especially individuals with a weakened immune system, if you can avoid it
- do not go to crowded places or anywhere that is enclosed or poorly ventilated if you do leave home
- do not touch your face with unwashed hands, if you can avoid it
Children and young people aged 18 and under
Respiratory infections are common in children and young people, particularly during the winter months. Symptoms can be caused by several respiratory infections including the common cold, coronavirus and RSV.
For most children and young people, these illnesses will not be serious. They'll soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.
Very few children and young people with respiratory infections become seriously unwell.
When to stay at home
Children and young people with mild symptoms who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting. Mild symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough.
Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they're well enough to attend.
It's not recommended that children and young people are tested for coronavirus unless advised to by a healthcare professional.
Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive coronavirus test result should continue to attend as normal.
If you're eligible for free NHS tests and you cannot place an order online, phone 119. The helpline is free from mobiles and landlines. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm (including bank holidays), and on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. They have a translation service. SignVideo (a free online British Sign Language interpreter service) is also available.
The Self-Isolation Support Grant closed on 5 January 2023. If you booked a PCR test through the portal on or before this date, you can apply for the grant up to 28 days from your positive PCR test result. If you’re eligible for the grant and were unable to apply within 28 days from your positive PCR test result, your local council may be able to consider your application. This is only if you were unable to apply within the 28 days because of something that you could not control.