Coronavirus information and guidance

Getting tested for COVID-19

Who can get tested?

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should apply for the test straight away.

Anyone who does not have symptoms can access a rapid test at one of the Lateral Flow Device testing sites.

How to get a test

If you have symptoms

If you have Covid-19 symptoms you are advised to have a PCR test. Guidance on test site location and testing options are available on the GOV.UK website, Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus. You can also call NHS 119.

Local sites for people with symptoms are at:

Southend Airport

Location: London Southend Airport, Long Stay Car Park 3, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6YE

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 9am to 3pm PCR testing only

Test book through the national system

Shoebury Park

Location: Shoebury Park, Elm Rd, Shoeburyness, Southend-on-Sea, SS3 9SF

Opening Hours Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm PCR testing only

Test book through the national system

Short Street Car Park

Location: Short Street, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 5BS

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8am to 6pm PCR testing only

Test book through the national system

COVID-19 symptoms

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you're worried about your symptoms, use the online NHS 111 coronavirus service. Call 111 if you can’t get help online.

If you do not have symptoms

You can get a home test kit from:

Central Government's website

Or from the following libraries (Open 10am – 4pm, Monday to Saturday)

Southend Central Library at The Forum

Elmer Square, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1NS

Westcliff Library

649 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex, SS0 9PD

Kent Elms Library

Rayleigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea Essex, SS9 5UU

Southchurch Library

221 Lifstan Way, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2XG

Leigh Library

Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2DA

Shoeburyness Library

Delaware Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS3 9NS

Or from

Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre

Garon Park, Eastern Avenue, SS2 4FA

Keep Southend Safe collect your test kits while attending the Hares about town Arts Trail from:

  • Beecroft Art Gallery Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6EX - open times 11am - 5pm
  • Prittlewell Priory Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6NB - open times 11am - 5pm
  • Southchurch Hall Close, Southend-on-Sea SS1 - open times 11am-4pm (closed 1-1:30pm)

Pharmacy Collect

Changes to the free LFD COVID-19 home test collection service from pharmacies

From the 4 October 2021, a number of changes are being made to the service at pharmacies. The changes are being made to increase traceability of test kits and to continue to assist NHS Test and Trace to identify COVID-positive cases in the community and break the chain of transmission.

The changes to the service will apply from 4 October 2021 and they include:

  • a reduction in the number of packs of test kits you can collect from pharmacies from 4 to 2
  • residents will need to register for a collect code through or by calling 119 before collecting home test kits from a pharmacy
  • if residents do not wish to register for a collect code, you can request an anonymous collection, but you should use collect codes wherever possible
  • information on the test kit lot number and the number of test kits supplied will be recorded and reported for each transaction
  • this data will be recorded daily to help identify areas of COVID-19 testing demand and support traceability of outbreaks
  • the minimum recommended age for a person to collect LFD test kits will be reduced to 16 years old

For more information on regular rapid lateral flow COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms visit

Assisted testing locations

These tests are only for people without symptoms. If you have symptoms book a test on GOV.UK.

If you have a health condition that makes testing yourself at home difficult, you can now get an assisted test at the following pharmacies across Southend-on-Sea.

Information on all test centres

All test sites in Southend are viewable on this map.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR test)

The PCR test looks for evidence that the virus is currently in your body, by looking for the presence of its RNA in a swab sample from your nose/throat.

The test needs to go to a laboratory for processing and it usually takes between 12 and 24 hours to return a result.

Lateral Flow Device Testing (LFD)

Lateral flow antigen devices are a rapid test for COVID-19 that gives a result in about 30 minutes. You can do the test yourself under the supervision of a trained member of staff. The test is a small swab brushed against your tonsils and inside one nostril. The swab is put into a device, which works a bit like a pregnancy-test kit. It then takes about 30 minutes to give a result.

Lateral flow devices give a result much faster than the more sensitive lab-based PCR tests which can take at least 24 hours, and often longer. The rapid approach does not need processing in a laboratory so it can pick up far more cases at the most critical period and stop transmission fast. This technology will help us greatly increase the number of people who know they are infected and can then self-isolate, slowing the spread of the virus.

More information on LFD tests

Priority testing for key workers in Southend

Nazareth house, 111 London Rd in Westcliff is now the testing centre for key worker staff including patients who are due to have planned operations at the hospital. Key workers eligible include NHS employees, care workers, the emergency services and education workers, and their household members receiving symptomatic testing.

Care home test kits

Coronavirus testing is available for all care home residents and staff regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not. To apply for a test kit, you must be a CQC Registered care home manager.

Visit GOV.UK to find out how to apply for care home test kits.

Home tests

Everyone is eligible for twice weekly symptom-free LFD testing kits. If not already supplied via your educational institution or workplace testing programme, kits can be collected at any community LFD rapid testing site and selected local libraries and pharmacies, as well as a limited number of PCR test locations. If you are unable to collect a kit from one of our local collection points, kits can be ordered via the GOV.UK website.

Where to collect a home test

Kits may be collected from selected pharmacies and several local libraries. All testing and collection sites in Southend are viewable on this map.

  • you do not need to book an appointment. Test kits are Free
  • you can collect 2 packs of home test kits. Each pack contains seven tests
  • you must be over 18 years old to collect home test kit

Once you have completed your home test, you should report every result (positive, negative or void) to NHS Test and Trace, on the same day you take the test. Report your result online or by phone as indicated on the kit.

Home test positive results

Subjects who return a positive LFD result are required to self-isolate immediately after receiving a positive result and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.

Your family or immediate contacts may also be required to isolate, guidance will be given by NHS Test and Trace as to the most current guidelines. 

Please check the most up to date guidance on GOV.UK.

You must arrange to have a PCR test if you have not already had one. Stay at home while you are waiting for a home self-sampling kit, a test site appointment or a test result. You can leave your home in a few specific circumstances, but do not go to work, school, or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis. See circumstances in which you can leave home.

If you need to leave your home to get to a test site, observe strict social distancing advice and return immediately afterwards.

You should consider yourself positive and adhere to the government guidelines, until advised otherwise by NHS Test and Trace or a confirmatory test result by a relevant person.

Negative PCR test result

If you receive a negative test result, you do not need to self-isolate (unless otherwise indicated).

Testing after your isolation period has ended

Anyone who has previously received a positive COVID-19 PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test unless they develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.

If, however, you do have an LFD antigen test within 90 days of a previous positive COVID-19 PCR test, for example as part of a workplace testing programme, and the result of this test is positive, you should self-isolate and follow the steps as set out in the government guidance again.

Financial support

If you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Order a symptom-free test kit to be delivered

If you cannot get tested at your workplace, are unable to go to a test site to take or collect a test, you can order a home test kit from GOV.UK.

Instructions in alternative formats

See instructions on testing for coronavirus at home in accessible formats.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can send you braille, audio or large print instructions. After ordering a home test you can either:

Back to the coronavirus homepage

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Telephone: 01702 215000

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