8 Things You Must Know About Coronavirus Testing

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Coronavirus testing has increased significantly. And if you’re going for one, you should certainly be aware of some things.

India has been recording the highest number of coronavirus cases in a day. Recently, there were eighty thousand cases recorded in one single day, highest in the world! India has also been conducting over a million tests everyday. The virus has been only expanding and everyone is in its proximity. It’s important to know these facts about coronavirus testing:

Symptoms of coronavirus

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), different people may experience different symptoms.

The most common ones are:

  1. Fever
  2. Dry cough
  3. Tiredness

The less common symptoms are:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Headache
  3. Loss of taste and smell
  4. Diarrhoea
  5. Conjunctivitis

Incase you’re showing serious symptoms like:

  1. Difficulty in breathing
  2. Chest pain
  3. Loss of speech or movement

Then, you must seek immediate medical attention.

When to get tested

Many people have mild symptoms, which are often due to reasons other than coronavirus. However, if you experience mild symptoms, you must self isolate at home and get tested to know the reason behind your symptoms.

Many health experts believe that even those with no symptoms of the virus need to be tested to help prevent the virus’s spread. Even if you don’t show any symptoms, but have been in contact with a lot of people lately, you should consider getting yourself tested.

How to book a test?

If you think that you want to get tested for COVID 19, you should call 1075, which is the government helpline number for India.

A referral of a doctor is a necessity to get yourself tested. According to ICMR guidelines, anyone who fits in at least one of these categories has to be tested:

  1. All symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days
  2. All symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases
  3. All symptomatic healthcare workers
  4. All patients with severe acute respiratory illness (fever and cough and/or shortness of breath)
  5. Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming contact

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There’s not just one test

There are basically two types of tests:

  1. Diagnostic test
  2. Antibody test

The first type is used to identify the presence of the virus in your body. There are various methods to do so.

The most widely used one is the RT-PCR Test. Swabs from your nose and throat are collected and analysed to detect the virus. Laboratories take six to eight hours to deliver the results of this test.

Another is the antigen test. Antigen tests produce results in as less as an hour! However, their accuracy is much less than RT-PCR tests. All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and ICMR evaluated that their accuracy of giving a true negative result ranges between 50 and 84%.

The second type, i.e. the antibody test is used to identify whether you’ve been infected by the virus in the past. Unlike diagnostic tests, these require a sample of your blood. It can deliver results within 30 minutes.

Methods of sample collection

One of the methods is going to a drive through testing center. Or, you can have an official come to your house to collect your sample. The latter is a little risky, because you wouldn’t want a person to come into your house as it endangers your family members too.

Things you must have

Most labs require a referral, so you’re expected to carry the referring doctor’s prescription, a government photo ID card (aadhar card, passport or voter ID) and you also have to provide your contact number at the time of testing. These essentials have been decided by the government, and no person is supposed to be tested if he fails to bring any one of these.

At what cost?

The price of coronavirus tests varies from place to place. Private laboratories used to charge four to five thousand rupees for one test. However, the government of each state has fixated a cap price for the tests, so a coronavirus test should not cost you more than three thousand now.

Antibody tests cost much lower- somewhere between Rs. 500 to Rs. 650.

Drive through tests

Drive through test centres were highly efficient in South Korea, and India has adopted it as well. There are drive through testing centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune among others. The process is simple and a no-contact process. Your sample is collected by a physician while you sit in the comfort of your car. This method is safer, because of minimum contact.

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