Covid: How to get a check for coronavirus

By Rachel Schraer
Health reporter

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Once the prime minister has introduced his “roadmap” for relieving England’s lockdown on 22 February, testing and tracing will as soon as once more turn into key to controlling the unfold of Covid-19.

People with signs have been in a position to get examined since final April, however the authorities hopes common testing of individuals with out signs may also assist cease infections from growing.

When ought to I get examined?

Testing individuals, telling these contaminated to isolate, after which tracing their contacts are important to cease the illness from spreading.

You ought to search an NHS check – one which must be despatched off to a lab – should you present considered one of three key signs:

  • a fever
  • a brand new steady cough
  • a lack of odor or style

Some have urged a wider group of related signs together with fatigue, diarrhoea, headache and a sore throat ought to set off a check – however, for now, the federal government is sticking to the three essential ones.

Testing includes a swab up the nostril and down the again of the throat.

Can I get examined if I haven’t got signs?

Many native councils are working testing centres for individuals with out signs, typically on the town halls and group centres.

These centres use fast or “lateral stream” exams, which give a end in about 15-Half-hour.

With these exams you continue to need to swab the nostril and throat, however the swab is dipped in a fluid which is then dropped onto a plastic gadget. It’s somewhat bit like a being pregnant check.

One line will seem on a paper strip displaying the check has labored, a second line will present when you’ve got the virus.

Some workplaces are additionally providing common testing, a couple of times per week, for workers who cannot work from home.

There are additionally plans for colleges to frequently check lecturers and pupils to identify infections earlier than they’ll unfold too far.

How to get examined

  • Go on-line, or name 119, earlier than going to a drive-through or walk-through testing web site – or a cellular testing unit
  • Order a house testing package within the first 4 days of getting signs
  • If you do not have signs, search on-line or ask your native council to see if they’re providing asymptomatic testing

What are the various kinds of check?

The PCR (polymerase chain response) check identifies whether or not you are presently contaminated.

In most instances, a nostril and throat swab is taken and despatched to a lab for processing.

There are additionally fast turnaround variations of those exams, largely obtainable in hospitals.

“Lateral stream” exams – which have been utilized in a Liverpool pilot – are actually extra broadly obtainable. They contain a handheld package that provides a outcome inside Half-hour.

These are much less delicate and can miss extra instances of the virus, particularly in individuals with gentle infections. But they’re good at recognizing nearly all of probably the most infectious instances.

Lateral stream kits are extraordinarily invaluable in areas removed from massive labs. But till just lately they have not been seen as a key a part of the UK’s testing technique.

As effectively as exams to verify for the virus, there are additionally blood exams to search for antibodies which point out previous, fairly than present, an infection.

Currently, they’re primarily being utilized by scientists to estimate what proportion of the inhabitants has had Covid, fairly than to diagnose people.

media captionBBC Reality Check appears at why testing issues

How dependable are exams?

This may be as a result of the swab pattern wasn’t ok, there have been issues within the lab, or due to the stage of an infection the affected person was at when examined.

More fast exams choose up between 40% and 80% of the instances that may be discovered by PCR.

Is the testing system dealing with demand?

The testing system skilled loads of well-publicised issues early on.

People struggled to get appointments and a few might solely e-book exams many miles from house.

But the system is working a lot better now and dealing with demand. There’s even spare capability.

A complete of 560,400 exams have been processed on 19 February. The authorities says capability is almost 800,000.

What about non-public testing?

Some clinics and well being centres supply non-public testing.

Prices range, however are sometimes about £100-£200 for a swab check to point out should you’re presently contaminated – or £50-£100 for an antibody check to point out should you’ve had Covid up to now.

Tests will need to have a ”CE mark” to point out they meet all authorized standards.

If you check optimistic, the check provider should let your native well being authority know so it could actually hint outbreaks.

What do I must know concerning the coronavirus?

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