Coronavirus testing will be prioritised for those most at risk of severe illness from the disease as the country moves into the “delay” phase of the outbreak.
Public Health England (PHE) said people in the community with a fever or cough do not usually need testing.
Patients in hospital care for pneumonia or acute respiratory illness will be given priority, which health chiefs hope will mean that those most at risk will be identified as early as possible, speeding up access to the right care and treatment.
PHE, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care have agreed “to prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness from the virus”, adding: “Our aim is to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.”
Tests will primarily be given to all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu-like illness, all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu-like illness, and where an outbreak has occurred in a residential or care setting, for example long-term care facility or prisons.
PHE said all other individuals with a high temperature or new, continuous cough should stay at home for seven days.
Officials said people do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.
“If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after seven days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999,” PHE said.