Coronavirus information and guidance

Getting tested for COVID-19

Who can get tested?

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should get a PCR test as soon as possible.

Anyone who does not have symptoms can access LFD rapid testing on the GOV.UK website.

How to get a test

PCR 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.

***People who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 have been identified by the NHS. They will be receiving a PCR test kit at home by mid-January to use if they develop symptoms, as they may be eligible for new treatments if they receive a positive PCR result. This group should use these priority PCR tests when they have symptoms as it will enable prioritised laboratory handling.

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.

LFD test, if you do not have symptoms

Residents can apply for symptom-free LFD testing kits. If not already supplied via your educational institution or workplace testing programme. To get a LFD rapid home test kit go to:

Central Government's website

If residents are unable to order online, they are available from the following libraries (Open 10am – 4pm, Monday to Saturday), and Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre. 

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

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

  • you can collect 2 kits
  • 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 is 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.

LFD 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 are not, now required to take a confirmatory PCR test **.  You should consider yourself positive and adhere to the government guidelines, record your results with and self-isolate.

** Some people will still be advised to get a confirmatory PCR:

  • people who want to apply for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP)
  • people participating in some research or surveillance programmes
  • people who have received a positive Day 2 LFD after arriving into the UK (to help us understand if and where potentially dangerous variants are emerging around the world)

Self-isolation can end early by testing on days 6 and 7 and receiving negative results. Further information on this is available in the “Stay at home” guidance is available on the GOV.UK website

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

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.

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.

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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