Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing for essential/key workers and test eligibility

Frequently asked questions

1. I am a member of staff and am having to self-isolate because I have coronavirus-like symptoms or a member of my household has symptoms. Can I be tested?

Yes. Anyone over five years of age, who is self-isolating because they are symptomatic, or who lives with household members who are symptomatic, is eligible for a test.

More information is available on the Public Health Agency (PHA) website

This information includes how people who live with you may also be eligible for testing.

Should any change to the eligibility criteria for testing be determined by PHA, NICS guidance for managers and staff will be reviewed accordingly.

2. My member of staff cannot work from home and is having to self-isolate because they have coronavirus-like symptoms or a member of their household has symptoms. What should I do regarding arranging testing?

Anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) or who lives with someone who has symptoms is eligible for testing.

All staff working for government departments are considered to be essential workers for the purposes of testing and are eligible for priority testing, as are the members of their household.

Full details on the testing programme, including test centre location and details of how to arrange testing can be found on the Public Health Agency (PHA) website

Should any change to the eligibility criteria for testing be determined by PHA, NICS guidance for managers and staff will be reviewed accordingly.

3. My member of staff cannot work from home and was self-isolating because they or a member of their household had symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus). They have been tested under the national testing programme. What should I do next?

You will already be in close contact with your member of staff during this time. Should they, or any member of their household, test positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus) they should continue to self-isolate for the required time. Please see Q1 in the self-isolation section of these FAQ’s for detailed information regarding self-isolation.

Full details of what to do next are outlined in Q3 in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) section of these FAQ’s.

4. I cannot work from home and I am currently in the workplace. Can I have a test to see if I have COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Currently in Northern Ireland only people who are having to self-isolate because they have COVID-19-like symptoms, or who live with someone who has symptoms, are eligible for a test in order to determine if they may either return to the workplace or should continue to self-isolate.

More details on testing can be found on the Public Health Agency (PHA) website

Should any change to the eligibility criteria for testing be determined by PHA, NICS guidance for managers and staff will be reviewed accordingly.                                                                                                  

5. I am currently self-isolating as I (or a member of my household) have COVID19 (Coronavirus) symptoms and will consequently be tested, will I be able to claim travel expenses for the journey to the testing centre?

Yes. Travel expenses may be claimed for travelling to and from the testing centre closest to your home address or the closest testing centre with available testing appointments. Such expenses are taxable, but your department will meet the tax liability on your behalf and this should be claimed through payroll on the following the Detached Duty Expenses form. You should select the Grossed Up expense type from the drop-down menu on this form.

Ordering a home testing kit may also be an option to you if ordered, received and performed with the first five days of your symptoms starting. Should you choose this option then no travel expenses will be incurred or reimbursed.

Details on the location of testing centres, how to book a test and the different options for testing are available on the Public Health Agency (PHA) website

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