Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect information leaflet

Last updated: 9 Aug 2021 - see all updates
Published: 17 Jul 2020

Leaflet providing information on the Test and Protect service from NHS Scotland, a new way to tackle coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect information leaflet
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - leaflet

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - leaflet text

Our next step in fighting coronavirus

Please read to find out what it means for you and how to help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.

This leaflet covers:

  • How Test & Protect works
  • What you should do
  • How to plan
  • Support
  • Data protection and fraud

What is Test & Protect?

NHS Scotland's Test & Protect service is the next step in tackling coronavirus. It works by identifying who has the virus and who they have had close, recent contact with to break chains of infection and stop the spread. For this to be effective, we need your help.

What do I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you have a continuous cough, high temperature, or loss or change in taste or smell, self-isolate and request a coronavirus test right away. You can do this online at or by calling 0800 028 2816 if you cannot get online.

If you develop symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and stay home for 10 days. Others in your household should stay home for 10 days in case they also develop symptoms.

If symptoms worsen or last for more than 10 days, call 111. If you have a fever for more than 10 days, continue isolating for 48 hours after it ends.

How do I get tested?

There are several ways, including drive-through and by post. Your options will be explained when you go online or call to request a test.

What happens if my test shows I have coronavirus?

NHS Scotland will ask you for help in contacting anyone you have had close, recent contact with. They will let those people know they may be at risk, provide self-isolation advice and offer a test if appropriate. This will be done confidentially.

What is close contact?

Somebody who has been near someone with coronavirus and could have been infected. Close contacts may have been near the infected person at some point in the 48 hours before their symptoms appeared, or at any time since symptoms appeared. Being near someone means:

  • Within 1 metre (around 3 feet) of them for any length of time (face-to-face contact)
  • Within 2 metres (around 6 feet) of them for 15 minutes or more

The closer and longer the contact, the higher the risk.

How do I find out if I have had close contact with someone who has coronavirus?

Someone from the NHS Scotland contact tracing team will get in touch.

Will I be told who it was?

Not unless that person has given NHS Scotland clear permission to share this information.

What will I need to do if identified as a close contact?

If you are a partially or non-vaccinated adult, you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days, whether or not you have symptoms. This is because they can take that long to develop and you can pass the virus on even if you don't have symptoms yet. If you develop symptoms, you should request a test.

If you are a fully-vaccinated adult, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact.

Fully vaccinated means you have received both of your vaccine doses, with at least two weeks passing since your second dose. This gives you the maximum possible protection from the vaccination.

If you are younger than 18 years and 4 months you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact. However, children under 5 years will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. 18 years and 4 months is the age specified to allow 4 months for individuals who turn 18 time to get fully vaccinated.

If you are medically unable to be vaccinated, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible. Provided you return a negative PCR test result and remain asymptomatic, you may end self-isolation as a close contact.

If you return a positive test result, you will still need to isolate for 10 days.

Should others in my household isolate too?

If you do not have symptoms yourself and you are the only person who has been identified as a close contact of someone with coronavirus, then the other people in your household will not be asked to self-isolate unless they have symptoms. However, you should try to isolate yourself from them as much as possible. If you develop symptoms, the rest of your household should isolate.

How do I self-isolate from people in my household?

If possible, you should:

  • Stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you live with
  • Stay in a different room, ensuring it is well-ventilated
  • Sleep alone in a separate bed
  • Minimise time in shared areas such as the sitting room, kitchen or bathroom
  • Avoid using the kitchen while others are in it
  • Use a separate towel to dry your hands after washing them
  • Clean the kitchen, bathroom and surfaces throughout the home every day

Hygiene advice for coronavirus should always apply:

  • Wash hands with soap for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol
  • Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and bin it, or into the crook of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your face

Making a plan

In case you are asked to self-isolate immediately, it is a good idea to have a plan. It should include:

  • Having enough supplies of medications and other essentials (please do not over-order)
  • Having contact details for someone who can help while you self-isolate, for example with food shopping
  • Setting up online food shopping accounts if possible
  • Making an alternative plan for anyone you normally provide care or support to, like family members or friends
  • Familiarise yourself with the information and support available at and

How does this work with jobs and employers?

If you have coronavirus symptoms, your employer should allow you to self-isolate at home immediately. Until you have been tested and told it is safe to leave home, your employer shouldnot ask you to come in to work.

If you are self-isolating because NHS Scotland has told you that you have had close contact with someone who has coronavirus, your employer can ask you to work from home (where possible) as long as you are well.

Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are isolating, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions and are not working from home.

What if I need support?

Many people will be able to self-isolate with the help of nearby family, friends or neighbours. But if you do not have this support, help is available so you can stay at home.

You can find information about how to get additional support at

If you do not have community or family support and need essential help, call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Mon–Fri 9am–5pm) or via textphone on 0800 111 4114. The helpline is for those who cannot leave their home or get the help they need elsewhere.

If your business has been affected by coronavirus and you need support, visit

Data protection

Data collected during contact tracing is essential in supporting you if you have tested positive for coronavirus and in helping to trace others who may have become infected.

By law all data collected must be protected by the NHS and comply with data protection rules such as the UK Data Protection Act/GDPR. If you have tested positive your name will not be passed to others you have been in contact with, unless you have agreed to this.

Information collected that does not identify you will also be used to help understand where outbreaks are happening and will be shared with other organisations, e.g. Local Authorities, to help contain the virus.

A privacy notice on how we use your data to help protect everyone from coronavirus is available from the top COVID-19 menu at

Avoiding fraud and scammers

For advice about avoiding fraud visit the contact tracing page on NHSinform.

First published: 17 Jul 2020 Last updated: 9 Aug 2021 -