Home News When and Where Can You Get a COVID-19 Test in Northern Ireland?

When and Where Can You Get a COVID-19 Test in Northern Ireland?

When and Where Can You Get a COVID-19 Test in Northern Ireland?

Since July, people living in Northern Ireland have been able to download the StopCOVID NI app to help track the virus.

It has been operating alongside a contact tracing system run by the Public Health Agency.

However, there has been confusion about what potential exposure notifications mean and when people should isolate or get tested.

Here is a rundown of what you need to know to protect yourself and others.

When to get tested

The most obvious scenario to seek out a test for Covid-19 would be if you start to register some of the tell-tale signs of the virus.

Everyone in Northern Ireland who has symptoms of coronavirus is eligible for a free test.

If you develop symptoms, you should aim to get tested within three days of their first appearance, although the Public Health Agency has said testing is effective up to five days from the first symptoms.

Essential workers and those who live with one can book a priority test if they develop the warning signs of the virus.

How do I get tested?

Booking a test is done through a centralised system which can be accessed here.

Alternatively, you can book a home testing kit to be sent to you, which you would then post to a testing centre.

As it stands, there are four fixed testing sites in Northern Ireland and six mobile venues.

Mobile units can be turned into temporary testing sites where there is a high local demand.

The four permanent sites are:

  • SSE Arena car park, Belfast
  • Londonderry site: The LYCRA Company car park
  • Craigavon MOT centre
  • St Angelo Airport, Enniskillen.

Those centres are open from 09:30 to 17:30 BST, seven days a week.

The six mobile sites are:

  • Trinity Methodist Church, Lisburn
  • Lough Moss Leisure Centre, Carryduff
  • Newry Leisure Centre, Newry
  • Carrickfergus Rugby Club, Carrickfergus
  • Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex, Newtownards.

Those mobile units are open from 10:30 to 15:30.

When will I get my test results?

The Public Health Agency has said test results should be available for patients within 72 hours.

Your results will be emailed to you.

App notifications

Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to launch an app for tracking and tracing coronavirus when StopCOVID NI was released at the end of July.

However, people have been confused by some of the alerts coming through to their phones.

One area of confusion has centred on the difference between “exposure log notifications” and “exposure notifications” that come through to the phones of people who have downloaded the app.

An exposure notification from the StopCOVID NI app is designed to let the user know that they have been near someone with Covid-19 for 15 minutes or more and they should self-isolate immediately.

Users will also be advised to book a test if they start to develop symptoms.

Further instructions are then issued through the app to inform users on what their next steps should be.

A weekly exposure log notification is generated by Google or Apple – it details how many times app users have been close to each other.

However, it does not measure whether you have been two metres or less from the person for that period of time.

The NI direct website says that only if you have been close enough, for long enough, to an app user that tests positive, will you receive a clear exposure notification from the StopCOVID NI app.

What does testing involve?

As outlined above, testing can either be carried out at a centre or through a home testing kit.

The main test involves a nose and throat swab, which has to be sent off to be processed at a lab.

Two new tests promising to deliver results in 90 minutes have been bought in their thousands by the UK government.

These tests are currently planned to be used in settings like hospitals and care homes.

Both still involve nasal swabs, but they can be processed using portable machines rather than needing to be sent to a lab.

These tests won’t show if you have had Covid-19 in the past. That requires antibody tests, which use blood samples.

Antibody tests are only offered to health and care staff, in schools or in the tests estimating the level of exposure across the country.

How many tests have been carried out in NI?

As of September 5, there have been 250,425 individuals tested for Covid-19 across Northern Ireland.

Of those, 7,621 have tested positive for the virus and 564 people have died in total after contracting coronavirus, according to statistics from the Department of Health.

That means about 3% of the individuals tested have returned a positive result.



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