Find information and advice on Covid-19 testing, testing sites in Northumberland, when to self isolate and self isolation support.

 IMPORTANT UPDATE - 11 December

 

A change to the self-isolating period from 14 days to 10 days has been announced


After reviewing evidence, the Government have announced that the self-isolation period for contacts of people with COVID-19 will reduce from 14 days to 10 days, beginning 00:01am on Monday 14 December. Click here to read the full announcement from Government.
  • On Monday 14 December, the change to the isolation period for contacts will apply to all those who are currently self-isolating including those who commenced self-isolation before Monday.
  • Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure, a test or the start of symptoms.
  • People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic.
  • People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.
  • The passenger locator form will be updated from Monday.
  • The NHS Test and Trace service will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Monday.
  • Due to the time taken to test technical changes and release updates through the app store, the NHS COVID-19 app will tell close contacts to isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Thursday 17 December.
  • In England, if you receive a notification from the NHS COVID-19 app before 17 December to isolate because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive:
    • if you have also been contacted by NHS Test and Trace you must follow isolation guidance provided by contact tracers
    • if you have been advised to isolate by the app (and not by NHS Test and Trace) then you can leave isolation when your isolation countdown timer says 3 days



Index of information on this page:

The latest information on COVID-19 mass / community testing in Northumberland.

This page was last updated on 9 December at 15:06.


What is mass / community testing?

The Government announced that Local Authorities in Tier 3: VERY HIGH alert areas may be able to participate in a six-week rapid community testing programme for asymptomatic people, to help detect those with no Covid symptoms, suppress the virus and offer a route out of the toughest restrictions. 
 
Local authorities in tier 3 areas, the highest level of restrictions, can apply for the new six-week community testing programme to complement wider local strategies to tackle the virus. 
 
The Government will work with local authorities to identify how community testing might be used to help areas in tier 3 move down to a lower tier, whilst continuing to protect the people in those communities and the NHS.
 
Local authorities will determine the best way to focus testing, suppress the virus and ensure their communities benefit.



Will mass / community testing be rolled out in Northumberland?

Up to now, testing for COVID-19 has focused on people with symptoms using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This involves taking a swab from the nose and throat which is sent for processing in a laboratory.   
 
There is a new test for COVID-19 which is being aimed at people without symptoms called a lateral flow device (LFDs). A nose and throat swab is required, but the test does not need to be processed at a laboratory and results are available within 30-60 minutes. The idea is to identify people who may be infectious early when they’re not displaying symptoms so they can then self-isolate and prevent spreading the virus. 
 
Northumberland are currently considering how rapid community testing can be used in a targeted way to benefit vulnerable communities, workplaces, and our own staff for business resilience. 
 
The Council stands ready to support Northumberland CCG and primary care trust colleagues on the roll-out of rapid community testing in the county, but this could be into the New Year.
 

Are the tests accurate?

No test is 100% accurate and the lateral flow tests currently available are not as sensitive as the PCR test. This means that they are less able to detect COVID-19 infection, however the benefits include: 

  • ease of use  
  • quick results 

LDF tests should be thought of in the same way as we think of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), social distancing, face coverings and hand washing: another way of reducing the risk of infection, but not a replacement for the other vital precautions we must continue to take.

From 28 September, you're legally required to self isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 or if NHS Test and Trace identifies you as having been in contact with someone who's tested positive.

Self-isolating can have an impact on your ability to earn a living, so the government has introduced a financial support scheme to support people on a low income.
 
If you’re employed or self-employed on a low income, and can’t work from home while self-isolating, you may be entitled to financial support of £500.

Please click on the links below to find out more:

Test and Trace support payment

Apply here

Please click here to apply for the £500 support payment. Check eligibility and what you need to apply (outlined below) before applying. 

Please note that you should use the same form for both types of support payment. Information on the discretionary support payment is below.

If you are unable to complete the online form, provide the relevant information, or have further questions please contact us on 0345 600 6400 and we will be able to help you and/or help you make a claim over the telephone. 


Eligibility

To qualify you must have been notified through NHS Test and Trace and have received a unique 8 character ID number.
 
To claim the £500 payment you must: 
  • be aged over 16 
  • live in Northumberland 
  • be employed or self-employed
  • be unable to work from home and face losing income as a result 
  • receive at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit 
  • have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace on or after 28 September 2020



What you need to apply

Please note: Do not delay in applying for financial support to help self-isolate. If a claim is not made within 14 days of the end of your self-isolation period it will not be valid.

You will need to complete our online form, or a telephone application by contacting us on 0345 600 6400 and provide the following information: 
  • your unique 8 character ID number as provided by NHS Test and Trace. This is referred to as your Account ID in your text message from NHS Test and Trace.
  • your National Insurance number 
  • a copy of your latest bank statement showing your name, sort code and account number 
  • proof of employment (e.g. recent wage slip, employment contract, bank statement issued within the last two months, which clearly shows proof of earnings) 
  • proof of self-employment (e.g. recent business bank statement issued within the last two months, most recent set of accounts or evidence of self-assessment returns) 
Please note that if contacting us by telephone you still be required to send your information either by upload or by post, which could delay your payment.

Payments will be made from the 12 October 2020 onwards. If you tested positive after the 28 September, you can apply for a back dated grant.

Please complete the application form and we will assess your eligibility for help under the national or discretionary scheme as appropriate.

Discretionary support

​ The Council has introduced a further discretionary scheme that can provide £500 per household in exceptional circumstances for people who don’t meet the conditions of the national scheme. 


This can help if you’re working and on a low income but aren’t receiving a relevant qualifying benefit; or, if you lack recourse to public funds, and will experience financial hardship if you have to self-isolate.
 

Apply here

Please click here to apply for the £500 support payment. Check your eligibility and what you need to apply (outlined below) before applying.

Please note that you should use the same form for both types of support payment. 
 
If you are unable to complete the online form, provide the relevant information, or have further questions please contact us on 0345 600 6400 and we will be able to help you and/or help you make a claim over the telephone. 


Eligibilty for discretionary scheme

You may be eligible for a discretionary track and trace support payment if you meet all of the following criteria: 
  • You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or you have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • Are over the age of 16 years
  • You are employed or self employed
  • Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
  • You are a resident of Northumberland
  • You are not currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit
  • Your income prior to being told to self-isolate is equal to or less than the National living wage i.e. £348.80 gross per week if you are single or £697.60 gross per week if you are a couple.
  • You can demonstrate you will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while you are self-isolating. 

The discretionary fund is limited and will be judged on a case by case basis, but if you fit into the criteria above please consider applying. You will need to provide a bank statement showing income less than living wage or nil income with no evidence of benefits. 

If you do not meet, or are unable to demonstrate that you meet the criteria for this scheme, you will not be eligible to receive a payment. There is no right of appeal.


What you need to apply 

Please note: Do not delay in applying for financial support to help self-isolate. If a claim is not made within 14 days of the end of your self-isolation period it will not be valid. 
 
You will need to complete our online form, or a telephone application by contacting us on 0345 600 6400 and provide the following information: 
  • your unique 8 character ID number as provided by NHS Test and Trace. This is referred to as your Account ID in your text message from NHS Test and Trace. 
  • your National Insurance number 
  • a copy of your latest bank statement showing your name, sort code and account number 
  • proof of employment (e.g. recent wage slip, employment contract, bank statement issued within the last two months, which clearly shows proof of earnings) 
  • proof of self-employment (e.g. recent business bank statement issued within the last two months, most recent set of accounts or evidence of self-assessment returns)
If you are applying for the discretionary scheme, we will also need details of your income and household expenses to establish that you are in financial hardship.
 
Please note that if contacting us by telephone you still be required to send your information either by upload or by post, which could delay your payment.

Payments will be made from the 12 October 2020 onwards. If you tested positive after the 28 September, you can apply for a back dated grant.

Please complete the application form and we will assess your eligibility for help under the national or discretionary scheme as appropriate.

Full guidance on self isolation payment support can be found here.
 
 

Other support

If you do not qualify for any of the grants above, there are other ways you can get support. If you or anyone you know is struggling at the moment, please get in touch with Northumberland Communities Together. We’ll help you find and access the support you need. Call 01670620015, 7 days a week 9am – 6pm. Learn more about Northumberland Communities Together on our webpage here. 
 

Your questions about support payments answered

Please click the questions below to reveal the answers.

All payments will be made via BACS transfer into your bank account. If you are eligible, we aim to make the payment within five working days of receiving the application and all of the necessary evidence. 

No. We are only able to make payments into an account in your name. If you do not have a personal bank account, please contact us and we will look at other payment methods.

You can protect your self-isolation payment by telling your bank how it should be used.  
 
If your bank account is overdrawn, you have a right to ask that the £500 is used to pay your bills rather than your overdraft. This is called exercising your first right of appropriation. 
 
If you want to do this, you must tell your bank seven days before the bill is due and you must give them specific details of what should be paid. You can get more information and download a template letter from the National Debtline website at this link.
Awards are only designed to help cover the self-isolation period, so you will only receive one £500 payment each time you are told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.
 
If you are told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate on multiple occasions, then multiple payments will be permitted, as long as the self-isolation periods do not overlap.
 
If more than one person in a household is told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, then each of them will be allowed to claim a payment, providing they have each lost income as a result of having to self-isolate and meet the qualifying criteria.
This payment will be subject to income tax. It will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.
There is nothing you need to do. If your income for the year is not more than £12,500, you will not have any tax to pay. If tax is due, HMRC will automatically recover it from your pay through a change in your tax code. HMRC will send you a new tax code notice.
 
Claimants can claim Statutory Sick Pay as well as a Test and Trace Support Payment, but not contractual sick pay from their employer. Employers can claim Statutory Sick Pay Reimbursement for those self-isolating.
 
No, the payment does not affect existing entitlements to Universal Credit, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit. The payment will also be disregarded as income for the purposes of tax credits.
 
If you have lost some income due to having to self-isolate you may qualify.
 
This includes where you have more than one source of employment, but are only being paid for some of your jobs during the self-isolation period, or where your employer has reduced your pay as you can only do part of your job from home while you are self-isolating.
The payment will be a coronavirus support payment and therefore a revenue receipt of your business, contributing towards your profits. The payment will need to be included on your Self Assessment Tax Return along with any other coronavirus support payments you may have received.
 
We would not make awards in the following situations: 
  • you are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace) 
  • you continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate
  • you can reasonably work from home during a period of self-isolation 
  • it is more than 14 days since your self-isolation period ended 
  • you have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate 
  • you are not in employment or self-employment 
  • you do not live in Northumberland (although you may be able to claim from your home area) 
The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other situations where you will not qualify. 
The Council has published a privacy notice which sets out why we ask for your personal informationwhat information we will hold, how it will be used, in what circumstances it would be shared, and with whom, and how long we will keep it for.
 
We will assess your application and let you know if your application has been successful, either for a Test and Trace support payment or a Discretionary payment.
 
If you are eligible, we aim to make the payment within five working days of receiving your application and additional evidence.
If you are not eligible, we will let you know why this is.
 
If you need assistance during this difficult time, Northumberland Communities Together is ready to help. Please visit the web page here, or contact the team on 01670 620015.  They will help to find you support and connect you with people in your area. 
No, to be eligible you must as an individual have been told to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace, and have your own unique ID number.
We are aware that the Department for Health and Social Care are setting up a number of rotating COVID-19 mobile testing sites across Northumberland, supported by the military.

This information was last updated on 14 December 2020.

 

IMPORTANT - Please read the restrictions currently in place within Northumberland by clicking here

 

When to get tested

It is very important that we all know when to get a test and when it isn't necessary to get tested. This is so we don't take a test away from someone that really needs it. 

The main symptoms of coronavirus are: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

Get tested if you have the symptoms
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get a test. It's really important that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can get a test. This will help us stop the spread of the virus.
Do not book a test if you don't have the symptoms
  • If you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and you are trying to book a test, do not come forwards for a test – you could be taking a test away from someone who really needs it.
  • This is increasingly important as we head into Autumn and Winter and more people will get colds and the flu. Only if you have one of the 3 symptoms should you book a test.
 

Testing

The council is not involved in the set-up or operation of tests, including their locations.

You MUST follow the registration process and book an appointment for a test. You can’t turn up to get a test without an appointment. 
 
Booking testing slots
Booking slots are made available the evening before for morning appointments, and in the morning for afternoon appointments. 
 
DHSC are continually seeking to release more booking slots, so returning to the website later or to the 119 service and re-attempting a booking can result in a test site being located closer to home. 
 
PLEASE NOTE: You may be offered an available slot which may not be near where you live. 
 

 

Self-isolating

 

Important update on self isolation period - 11 December 

After reviewing evidence, the Government have announced that the self-isolation period for contacts of people with COVID-19 will reduce from 14 days to 10 days, beginning 00:01am on Monday 14 December. Click here to read the full announcement from Government.

  • On Monday 14 December, the change to the isolation period for contacts will apply to all those who are currently self-isolating including those who commenced self-isolation before Monday
  • ​Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure, a test or the start of symptoms.
  • ​People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic.


When to self isolate and how long to self isolate



NHS Test and Trace

If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace system will ask you to share your most recent contacts with them. This allows your contacts to be 'traced' via this service, and they will be informed that they have recently been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. They can then self-isolate for 14 days to stop the spread.

Information about the test sites in Northumberland.

This information was last updated on 13 November at 09:09.

 

Latest update on testing sites in Northumberland

Two new Covid-19 testing sites are opening in Northumberland in Berwick and Hehxam. With the opening of these sites, Northumberland now has four testing sites, including sites in Blyth and Ashington. 

  • Berwick site: Sandstell car park in Spittal, Berwick, TD15 1RE - operational from Friday 13 November
  • Hexham site: Former fire station site, Tyne Mills Industrial Estate, Hexham, NE46 1XJ - operational from Saturday 14 November


Your Questions Answered:

Click on the questions below to reveal the answers.

FAQs section one

General information on testing sites in Northumberland

No. Testing sites are run by the Government’s Department of Health and Social Care as part of the drive to improve the accessibility of COVID-19 testing for communities, as such they are responsible for the operation of all sites.
These testing sites are semi-permanent, purpose-built locations where members of the public who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus. These sites are walk-through sites which means they are accessible on foot, as opposed to drive-through. However appointments are still required before attending.
Northumberland has four testing sites;
  • Peoples Park car park, Institute Road, Ashington, NE63 8HP - operational from Saturday 19 September

 
  • Marine Terrace car park, Blyth, NE24 2LL - operational from Tuesday 22 September

 
  • Sandstell car park in Spittal, Berwick, TD15 1RE - operational from Friday 13 November

 
  • Former fire station site, Tyne Mills Industrial Estate, Hexham, NE46 1XJ - operational from Saturday 14 November

8am to 8pm, 7 days per week.

FAQs section two

Safety at testing sites

Yes. Sites will have detailed clinical operating procedures in place which have been developed in collaboration with clinical experts. Layouts at walk-through testing sites have been carefully designed to ensure people can move around them safely and prevent spread of the virus. Social distancing will be maintained throughout the testing process, and people attending the sites are asked to wear a face-covering.
No. Both testing sites have been risk assessed, to ensure they do not pose any health and safety risks to the surrounding areas. This has been confirmed by the Council’s Health and Safety team.

FAQs section three

How to book a test and when

YES. It is important that anyone requiring a test makes a booking before attending any test site. This will ensure that sites have enough capacity to meet demand and prevent them from becoming overcrowded.
You should only book a test if you have been asked to do so by a doctor or a public health professional or by your local council, or if you are showing one or more symptoms of COVID-19. These are;
  • A new and persistent cough
  • Fever
  • Sudden loss of/change to sense of taste or smell
You can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by phoning 119.
No. The Department of Health and Social Care is responsible for the operation of testing sites, and any appointment slots must be booked online via nhs.uk/coronavirus or gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by phoning 119.
No. It is essential that tests are reserved for those who are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19.  Even if you have been instructed to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace system, you should only book a test if you yourself are showing symptoms of the virus.
You should only request a test if you have developed symptoms of COVID-19. If someone you have been in contact with tests positive for COVID-19 you will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, at which point you will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days.

Again, you should only request a test if you yourself are showing symptoms of COVID-19, otherwise you should carry out the full period of self-isolation as instructed. Remember, you will only be contacted by the Test and Trace service if someone you have been in contact with has been confirmed to have the virus.

FAQs section four

Getting to a testing site

If you are attending a site for a COVID-19 test, it is essential you do not use taxis or public transport to get there. Walking or cycling is recommended if you are unable to drive. Be sure to wash your hands before you leave the house and avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily on your way.

FAQs section five

Before a test

You will be asked to bring your booking confirmation and a form of ID. You should also wear a face-covering at all times when attending the test site, only removing it at the moment you take your test.

FAQs section six

During a test

You will be asked to sanitise your hands upon arrival and ensure you maintain a 2-metre distance from others. You may be asked to queue and there may be bags checks in place. When inside the testing tent, your confirmation message and ID will be checked, and you will be given a testing kit. A member of staff will then direct you to a testing booth where you will carry out your test.
You will conduct the test yourself, which will consist of 2 swabs – one from the nose and one from the mouth. Full instructions will be given, and staff will be there to offer support should you encounter any issues.
Slots for testing are 20 minutes, although you may be required to queue before entering the site.

FAQs section seven

After a test

You should return straight home after your test without stopping anywhere else. You should then register online using the link on your test registration card and the remaining barcode from your test kit.

FAQs section eight

Test results

You should receive your result within 72 hours. There are 3 types of result you can get:
  • negative
  • positive
  • unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive
A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate immediately.
  • If you had a test because you had symptoms, keep self-isolating for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you had a test but have not had symptoms, self-isolate for 10 days from when you had the test.
Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days from when you start self-isolating.
A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

 You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:
  • everyone you live with who has symptoms tests negative
  • everyone in your support bubble who has symptoms tests negative
  • you were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace. If you were, you must keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who has coronavirus – as you could get symptoms after being tested. However, anyone you live with and those in your support bubble can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • you feel well – if you feel unwell, stay at home until you’re feeling better
Note: If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.
An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result means it's not possible to say if you had coronavirus when the test was done.

You must get another coronavirus test as soon as possible if this happens.

If you had a test because you had symptoms, you must keep self-isolating and have another test within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

If you’re not able to have another test in time, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days.

If you had a test but have not had any symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate while you wait to get another test. People you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, do not need to self-isolate.
When you book your appointment, you will receive a confirmation message that will include a contact number which you can phone if you do not receive your test result within 72 hours.
No. There is no evidence to suggest that a person develops immunity from COVID-19 after being infected.
No. This test can only tell you whether you are currently infected with COVID-19.
From 28 September, people who are legally required to self-isolate will be fined if they breach the regulations.

Self-isolation enforcement

The penalty will start at £1,000 for a first offence but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offenders.  These fines will also apply to employers who refuse to allow staff the time off work to self-isolate.

Click here for more information from Government on the new legal duty to self-isolate.

 

Self-isolation support

You could be eligible for a £500 support payment if you are legally required to self-isolate.

Click here to see if you're eligible and apply for the payment.
Find out what to do if you develop Coronavirus symptoms when visiting Northumberland.

This information was last updated on 17 September 2020.

 

IMPORTANT - Please read the local restrictions currently in place within Northumberland by clicking here

 


If you become unwell and experience any symptoms of coronavirus while you are on holiday in Northumberland you must:
  • Self-isolate and stay indoors
  • arrange a test using your holiday address
  • notify your accommodation provider
You can get a test by visiting the NHS website by clicking here or by calling 119. You can book an appointment at a drive-through or walk-through test site or ask for a home test kit to be sent to your holiday accommodation although this may take longer. Test results are issued by text or email so you do not need to wait for your results if you are due to return home before your result arrives. You must return home the most direct way and must not use public transport.

If you’re staying or travelling with others, they must also self-isolate and take appropriate action based on your test result.

If you need medical advice whilst you wait for your test results please contact your regular GP or call 111. In the event of a medical emergency, call 999.


If you test positive

If you test positive for coronavirus and feel well enough to travel home - and do not need to use public transport -  you should return home as quickly and directly as you can. 

If you feel too unwell to travel, or cannot avoid public transport, you should continue to isolate and call 111 for further advice. You must also inform your accommodation provider that you have tested positive.


If you test negative

Enjoy the rest of your holiday as planned. If you need any medical assistance please call your GP or contact 111.

We all need to do our bit in the battle against Covid.  Protect yourself, protect others, and protect Northumberland.

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