Covid Testing: How to book a PCR test in Northern Ireland

With PCR tests in high demand, it's now more important than ever to have all the facts when booking your Covid test in Northern Ireland. But how can you book one and what does the process entail?

Due to the high demand for PCR tests in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health have extended test site opening hours to 8pm, allowing more people access to this vital service. In this article, we cover the key things you need to know about how to book a Covid test.

What are the symptoms of Covid?

A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.

Rising demand for booking a Covid test in Northern Ireland sees opening hours extended to 8pm.

A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

A loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.

If you develop symptoms of Covid, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you need to book a PCR test as soon as possible and isolate until you know your test results. If you test positive you will need to isolate for a total of 10 days.

How to book a Covid test in Northern Ireland

If you have symptoms of Covid or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you are eligible for a free PCR test at a test site near you. Options include a drive-in, walk through or mobile testing unit and can be booked online here.

If you are unable to make it to a test site you can alternatively order a home test kit in the post. After ordering a test kit, you should receive it the next day via Royal Mail. The kit will include step by step instructions to help you successfully administer the test, however, if you are on day eight of having symptoms you will need to go to a test site as it's too late to have one posted out to you.

What will happen during your PCR Test?

All tests are self-swab, meaning you will carry out the test yourself by taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat. Test kits include detailed step by step instructions and if you are going to a test site these instructions will be explained to you by a member of staff.

If you are bringing a child to be tested, the parent or guardian must carry out the swab test, there are instructions on how to do this here.

How long will it take to get a result?

Your PCR test will be sent to a laboratory for processing and receiving your test result from a testing site can take up to 48 hours. You will be notified either by text or email, so it's important to ensure you have given the correct details when booking.

If you have completed a home test kit, your results can take up to 72 hours to process.

Will I need to self-isolate?

Yes, you will need to self-isolate until you get your test results. If your results are positive you will need to isolate for a further 10 days.