New government guidance for managing COVID-19 came into force on 1 April 2022 with the aim now being to manage the virus like any other respiratory infection.

This is because we have greater protection as a result of the vaccination programme and natural immunity.

How does this affect testing?

In line with this new guidance, the council no longer has access to free test kits so we can no longer offer free universal testing in Oldham.

The borough’s asymptomatic sites have now closed, alongside home kit collection sites, free testing at local pharmacies and PCR sites for people with symptoms.

Most people are no longer advised to test to see if they have COVID-19. However, some people are still able to access free tests.

Who is eligible for free testing?

There are a small number of people who are still able to get free COVID-19 tests from the NHS, including;

  • If you have a health condition which means you're eligible for new COVID-19 treatments
  • If you're going into hospital for surgery or a procedure
  • If you work in the NHS or social care

For more information on this and how you can order tests if you are eligible, please visit:

What do when you test?

Where people still have tests at home and decide to use them, the isolation guidance has been updated:

  • adults with a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious. 
  • children with a positive COVID-19 test result should do the same as above but for three days.

What symptoms should I look for?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

Anyone who is unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 and has either a high temperature or feels too ill to work should stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

They can go back to work when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.

The list of symptoms of COVID-19, as of 4 April 2022, can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than one hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Support for local businesses

We still have a dedicated team available to help you with advice regarding potentially infectious illnesses within your workforce.

Please email COVID.Trace@oldham.gov.uk and we will reply to your query as soon as we can.

In the meantime, while cases of COVID-19 continue to circulate in the community, you can reduce the impact on your business by considering the following measures;

  • Maximising ventilation
  • Encouraging employees to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces
  • Offering opportunities to keep hands clean