How tests and testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) work

For patients, the public and professional users.

How the tests work

Testing for COVID-19 can or could be done in the following, three ways:

Sampling kits

A sample is collected by the person having the test (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted) in a home or mobile environment such as police stations, care homes or drive-through centres. The sample is taken either through the use of a swab applied to the nose and throat, or by providing saliva. The sample should be placed into special packaging provided and sent to the designated lab for analysis.

This type of sampling kit is currently being rolled out at scale by the government to key workers and those prioritised for testing. Those eligible can access sampling kits through the government’s official channels.

Read more about the testing process.

A sampling kit that has a valid CE mark can be sold to members of the public and used by them privately.