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TESTING FOR COVID-19 – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, experts say that the society will have to evolve along with it. Most people now choose to wear masks most of the time and it has become unacceptable to go to work when one is sick.

Getting Tested

COVID tests, whether at-home or otherwise, are very handy to help reduce the spread of the infection.

With the ongoing variant of Omicron, the CDC has updated isolation and quarantine recommendations for infected people. As the spread of this virus is extremely infectious, it is important for people to get tested in case they have any symptoms.

COVID-19 tests can detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It can also detect anti bodies that your body makes after getting COVID-19 or after getting vaccinated.

Types of COVID-19 Tests

Tests for SARS-CoV-2 tell you if you have an infection at the time of the test. This is called a viral test, because it looks for a viral infection in the body. Other viral tests are Antigen or Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATS).

Viral tests are of two types – Rapid tests and Laboratory tests. While rapid tests can be performed in minutes, laboratory tests can take a couple of days to complete. These include RT-PCR and other types of NAATS.

Antibody or Serology testsare antibodies tests that tell if you have had a past infection of COVID-19. Your body creates antibodies after getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. An antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.

Self-Tests are rapid tests that can be done at home or anywhere. They are easy to use and produce rapid results.

When to get tested?

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • If you have had a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19
  • Before any kind of travel
  • For screening in schools, colleges, workplaces, etc.
  • When asked by a healthcare professional or public health officer

What to do once we get the results

If positive:

  • Isolate yourself immediately.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Seek a confirmatory, follow-up laboratory test if recommended by your health care professional.

If negative:

  • Return to normal activities if fully vaccinated. Get vaccinated if you are not so far.
  • Wear a mask indoors, in areas of high community transmission.
  • Continue to quarantine yourself if you are not fully vaccinated and have symptoms or exposure. Return to normal activities if not.

Things to know about a covid-19 test

  • COVID-19 tests are available at zero cost nationwide at health centers and select pharmacies.
  • COVID-19 tests are effective at detecting a COVID-19 infection.
  • Current rapid COVID-19 tests give results in 15-20 minutes.

Health centers are an important component of the national response to the pandemic. They provide COVID-19 testing services to individuals who meet the set criteria for this testing. Find a health center near you to check if COVID-19 screening and testing is available. For more information, please call the health care center about the availability of low or no-cost testing.

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