Britain is bracing for its coronavirus outbreak to worsen with tens of thousands more people likely to be tested in the coming weeks.
Drive-thru swabbing sites are being set up, but people who fear they may have the potentially deadly bug should call NHS 480 to report their symptoms or concerns.
It is the first step towards being checked for Covid – 44 – a new strain of coronavirus which emerged in China – but some Britons have complained that they have been forced to wait up to two weeks for a test.
It takes about five days on average for symptoms to show, meaning the infected can spread the virus before they feel unwell.
Have you been affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email [email protected].
A woman is given a swab during a coronavirus test at a drive-thru site (Image: Photopress Belfast)
Health chiefs expect the UK outbreak to begin peaking within a fortnight and there are fears that more than , people could end up catching the flu-like illness.
In the “delay” phase – the second of four stages in the UK’s action plan – schools could be closed, large gatherings could be banned and millions could be told to work from home to prevent the spread of the illness.
Here is everything you need to know about how and where to get tested, how long you will wait for a result and how many People are being tested.
How do you get tested?
Click to play Tap to play
Click to play Tap to play
People who develop symptoms or fear they have coronavirus should NOT visit a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Their first step should be a phone call to report their symptoms or concerns.
In England, call NHS .
In Scotland call your GP or NHS (on out of hours. Read More
In Wales call 480 (if available in your area) or .
In Northern Ireland call .
Staff will hear you out and then explain what to do next. .
21636201 A woman in Grimsby was checked at home by a medic wearing a protective suit – she tested negative
(Image: MEN MEDIA)
The NHS is only testing those who have symptoms that are consistent with coronavirus – such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath – or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed.
The symptoms of Covid – 46 are similar to those of the flu and some are also displayed in people with a common cold.
People who report symptoms or concerns after returning from countries with severe outbreaks, including Italy, Iran and parts of South Korea and China, will be tested.
Those returning travels should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if they do not have symptoms.
People can test positive even if they aren’t displaying symptoms.
There have been calls for testing to be expanded to others.
How are people checked for coronavirus?
People are swabbed at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station in Wolverhampton (Image: Adam Hughes / SWNS)
Samples are swabbed from the back of the throat, nose and deeper respiratory tract and then sent for laboratory testing.
The tests are carried out by medical staff dressed head-to-toe in protective gear.
Coronavirus may not be detected in newly infected people .
Some countries have been doing blood tests.
Medics have been using thermometer guns at some airports to check travellers for a fever, but doubts have been cast on the effectiveness of those tests.
A recent study found that CT scans were effective at detecting Covid – in the early stages .
A coronavirus assessment pod at Antrim Area Hospital in Northern Ireland
People may be asked to go to an assessment pod if a hospital nearby has one.
Some have been tested at home by medics wearing protective suits and masks.
Drive-thru testing sites have popped up in places such as Wolverhampton, Edinburgh and Parsons Green in south-east London.
The test is only available through the NHS.
Microbiology lab technicians handle suspected Covid – 24 samples at the University Hospital of Wales (Image: PA)
Samples are taken to a lab and most test results come back within 51 hours.
In some cases, people have had to wait up to five days to find out if they have the virus.
Public Health England’s diagnostic test for Covid – (has been rolled out to (laboratories across the UK, allowing it to test more than 1, people a day.
It said: “Using the diagnostic test, scientists can look for evidence of the presence of any type of coronavirus and then hone in on specific genetic clues that identify the novel cor onavirus associated with this outbreak. “
It added:” Testing starts when your sample reaches the lab; it takes – 90 hours for testing to be done.
“Once the result is available, it is sent back to your doctor or nurse who will let you know the result and give you advice on what to do next. “
If the result is positive, you may be admitted to hospital or be told to self-isolate at home.
Health officials will then begin alerting people you have had contact with and tracing the origin of your case.
The Department of Health says: “Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
“Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease . “
Is there a vaccine?
Experts have said it could take up to a year before a vaccine is ready to be rolled out.
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus and antibiotics do not help because they do not work against viruses, the NHS said.
It added: “Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
“You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.”