The new novel coronavirus disease has caused profound disability worldwide. One of the most critical aspects of such a pandemic is testing. It has to be both accurate and fast. Many people wonder where to get tested for COVID-19 as choices are limited, and guidelines are strict. The emergence of the new rapid test kits for COVID-19 may perhaps enhance the battle against COVID-19 pandemic, as they offer both speed and accuracy. Before going through the options of testing, let's focus on the main aspects of COVID-19, as well as the importance of fast and accurate testing methods.
COVID-19 is a new disease that appeared in China at the end of 2019. Our lack of knowledge for this disease has led to the current coronavirus pandemic. Scientists have proposed specific measures to control the spread of the disease. They are also working on the development of a vaccine for its prevention.
What is COVID-19
COVID-19, caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, stands for CoronaVirus Disease 2019. The virus belongs to the coronaviruses family of viruses that predominantly cause upper respiratory tract infections. When seen under the microscope, coronaviruses have crown-like spikes that look like a crown or a corona. That's where their name came from.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 might be symptomatic or asymptomatic. It might also present as a mild, moderate, or severe disease. Its symptoms are usually the following:
- Shortness of breath
Sometimes, novel coronavirus symptoms become more critical, causing dyspnea or trouble breathing, bluish discoloration of the skin, chest pain or pressure, and confusion. These symptoms constitute an emergency, and the patient should receive urgent medical attention.
Who's at risk for COVID-19?
People with comorbidities are at high risk for severe COVID-19 and complications. These people might have heart disease, diabetes, obesity, COPD, or other conditions that make them vulnerable to infections. Older people are more likely to present with severe symptoms and to require intensive care.
How to protect yourself from coronavirus pandemic
- Wash your hands often with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, and 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 too.
- Avoid close contact with people to avoid getting sick or spreading the disease.
- Practice social distancing.
How to protect others
- Act like you're sick, independently of whether you have the disease or not.
- SARS-Cov-2 survives and remains stable on surfaces for hours. Make sure you disinfect objects and surfaces in your house.
- Make sure you cough or sneeze on a tissue.
- Wear a face mask.
- Stay at home if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
Testing options for COVID-19
There are several options to get tested for COVID-19. You can go to a lab and give a blood or swab sample to a laboratory doctor, or you can have a fingerstick rapid test kit in the presence of a healthcare professional.
Testing at the laboratory
Testing at the laboratory at the hospital or private clinics is possible. Testing might require a blood or swab sample that a doctor or a nurse will collect from the patient. The results might take a few days to come out. Meanwhile, experts suggest that the individual should act like they have the virus, in order not to spread it to others. Testing at the laboratory might need a PCR or antibody technique, depending on the healthcare settings and regulations.
Why is testing important?
People get tested for diagnostic and epidemiological reasons to check the spread of the disease. Knowing the extent of the pandemic helps scientists figure out the demands of each area and its healthcare system, and adopt the social distancing measures to the circumstances. For example, some people might be self-isolating for no reason, while others might need stricter measures.
Who can get tested?
Testing, for the moment, is reserved for people with symptoms that indicate COVID-19, and for those who are seriously ill. Most people do not have access to testing. As a result, many cases remain under-diagnosed, such as those with mild, few, or no symptoms.