Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect

Published: 18 Feb 2021
Last updated: 13 Oct 2021 - see all updates

Information and support for people who are asked to self-isolate because of COVID-19, including the Self-Isolation Support Grant (£500).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect
Close contact testing

Close contact testing

If you have been identified as a close contact (household or non-household) of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus you will be asked by Test and Protect to self-isolate and take a test. You should do this as soon as you are identified as a close contact.

What you need to do

If you are a close contact identified through Test and Protect, a contact tracer will, during their call advising your period of self-isolation, tell you how to book your test. If you are identified through the Protect Scotland App, you will be referred to the test booking portal to book your test.

You can also get help booking your test by calling 0800 028 2816.

Children under 5 years are encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. These children are no longer required to self-isolate as close contacts.

If you had a previous positive PCR test within the last 90 days

If you are fully vaccinated or under 18 years and 4 months old and you have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 90 days you should not get tested. You do not need to self-isolate as long as you do not have symptoms. If you develop new symptoms you should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test.

If you are over 18 years and 4 months old and are not fully vaccinated and you have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 90 days you should not get tested. You will need to self-isolate for the full 10 days. If you start developing new symptoms you need to book a test immediately.

If your test result comes back positive for coronavirus

If you test positive for coronavirus, you will be contacted by Test and Protect to identify any close contacts that need to self-isolate and get tested. You will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days from taking your test.

If your test comes back negative for coronavirus

If you test negative for coronavirus, you can end self-isolation if:

  • you are over 18 years and 4 months old, are fully vaccinated, and remain asymptomatic
  • you are under 18 years and 4 months old and remain asymptomatic
    • 18 years and 4 months is the age specified to allow 4 months for individuals who turn 18 time to get fully vaccinated
  • you are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for clinical reasons

If you test negative for coronavirus, you cannot end self-isolation if you are not fully vaccinated and aged over 18 years and 4 months.

If your test, taken while self-isolating as a close contact, comes back negative for coronavirus you cannot leave self-isolation. A test provides a point in time assessment of whether someone had the infection when the test was taken. It cannot indicate whether someone is incubating the disease, and therefore may go on to develop it after a test is taken. It is for this reason that close contacts must complete the required 10 days of self-isolation.

As evidence shows, fully-vaccinated people have a reduced risk of infection and transmission, fully-vaccinated close contacts are able to end self-isolation provided they receive a negative PCR test and remain without symptoms.

It is especially important to finish your self-isolation period because the new strains of the virus are more infectious. Not everyone who has coronavirus will have symptoms, so you could be spreading the disease to those around you without knowing it, if you leave self-isolation early.

What to do if you develop symptoms after your negative test

If you start developing symptoms of coronavirus after testing negative initially, you should self-isolate immediately if you were released from self-isolation, or continue self-isolating if already doing so. You should book a new test immediately. The rest of your household needs to self-isolate until you receive further instructions alongside your test result.


First published: 18 Feb 2021 Last updated: 13 Oct 2021 -