COVID-19 is a new disease for which we learn more and more every day. Scientists come up with further information about how to manage patients and control the spread of the disease. So far, we know that novel coronavirus may not appear with profound symptoms in some individuals. For others, it might take from two days to up to 2 weeks for initial symptoms to appear. However, specialists consider the following as the most common symptoms linked to novel coronavirus:

  • Fever increases gradually and may reach high temperatures.
  • Cough worsens progressively and may interrupt daily activities and sleep.
  • Shortness of breath or dyspnea. Dyspnea might get severe in some individuals, making it hard to breathe.

Although some people may experience these symptoms in a mild or moderate intensity, others might face profound worsening and may require intensive care. The following symptoms and signs indicate that this is a severe case of COVID-19 that requires urgent management from a healthcare facility:

  • Severe dyspnea or trouble breathing
  • Blue discoloration of the lips or face
  • Persistent chest pain 
  • Persistent pressure on the chest
  • Confusion and drowsiness

These symptoms indicate lung damage, and the patient should seek help immediately. It is vital to note that asymptomatic patients might also have changes in the architecture of the lungs. However, current guidelines suggest that only those with moderate to severe symptoms should receive intensive medical care. Experts suggest home care for those with COVID-19 and mild symptoms and signs, according to WHO. CDC recommends calling your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of the novel coronavirus. He or she will guide you and will suggest the next recommended steps for your management. However, guidelines differ in every country's healthcare system.

When to test for coronavirus?

Testing for SARS-Cov-2 is essential in isolating carriers immediately and protecting those whose results are negative. However, CDC suggests that not everyone should get tested. The following are some facts provided to help an individual decide whether to get tested or not:

  • In most people, COVID-19 presents with mild symptoms. These patients can recover at home in isolation.
  • Testing can help you isolate yourself immediately and protect the people you work or live with and the community.
  • There is no specific or widely-accepted treatment for COVID-19. Doctors manage most cases symptomatically, meaning by controlling the symptoms and managing the overall state of the patient.

There is no specific timing for getting tested for coronavirus. Some people decide to get tested when they experience initial symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. Others get tested after a person in their close environment gets a COVID-19 diagnosis. CDC recommends some specific guidelines about getting tested for coronavirus. However, every country and healthcare system have their own, according to their supplies and regulations. Testing for coronavirus might be imposed by the state and the healthcare system, it might be part of the screening program in the company you work at, or it might be your personal choice. 

Testing positive for COVID-19

Testing positive for COVID-19 is not the end of the world. You only have to make sure that you didn't infect others through the course of the disease. As mentioned previously, you don't have to be seriously ill to have COVID-19. Some people present with no or few symptoms. Most individuals experience mild disease. Those that experience severe or critical symptoms and signs usually have other conditions as well that increase their risk for complications. If you are positive for COVID-19, talk with your primary healthcare provider, follow his or her advice, and make sure to isolate yourself from others. 

Testing negative for COVID-19

Keep in mind that getting tested for COVID-19 and receiving negative results does not necessarily mean you don't have coronavirus. You might have contracted the disease recently, without allowing the viral levels to be detectable through testing. Also, a negative test does not mean you cannot get infected later. It only means that you were negative at the time of your specimen collection, or that you were very early in the infection. 

How to protect yourself and the others

As mentioned previously, testing negative for novel coronavirus does not mean you should stop practicing all the protective measures against the spread of the disease. If you are a young and healthy individual, you might get coronavirus and not present any symptoms. If given this situation you do not practice social distancing, you could spread the disease to vulnerable populations, such as your parents. Therefore, the key to protecting both yourself and others is staying away from them as much as you can. According to the CDC, "The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus." Keep practicing all the protective measures against COVID-19, such as the following:

  • Wash your hands often with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Don't touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with your hands, especially when you are in public places.
  • Keep distance from other people, independently of whether they are sick or not.
  • Avoid crowded places to avoid getting sick or spreading the disease.
  • Avoid close contact with people to avoid getting sick or spreading the disease.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms such as fever, cough, or dyspnea.
  • Stay home if you came in contact with a person that coughed or sneezed near you.
  • Cough or sneeze on a tissue and throw it away immediately. Wash your hands. 
  • Wear a facemask to protect the others and the people you love from getting sick.
  • Clean and disinfect your house surfaces and objects frequently. Keep in mind that SARS-Cov-2 survives and remains stable on surfaces for hours.

If you experience severe and emergency symptoms and signs of COVID-19, seek medical help immediately. Do not wait until you get tested, or until your test results are out. For some, COVID-19 might cause complications whose symptoms are not on the list. For further information regarding coronavirus and personalized care, consult your primary healthcare provider.