Everything you need to know about COVID-19 tests


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Everything you need to know

As much as the coronavirus is spoken about daily, there is still a lot we don’t know, like what’s it like to get tested or even when to go. Don’t worry though, we’re covering it all - from when to get tested to the process to where to do it and everything in between.

COVID-19 is still a hot topic of conversation and we’re all trying to remain as safe and as healthy as possible. But what happens when you suspect you may have the virus? Or you want to get tested for peace of mind? Right now, it’s difficult to know what the right thing to do is, there are many varying opinions especially from that one aunty you have on Facebook who shares about 40 articles a day. Who can you trust? Let’s start from the beginning.

A brief overview of the coronavirus

By now, we’re all too familiar with the virus, its symptoms and preventative tips but it’s always good to cover all our bases.

The most common symptoms are:

1. Cough

2. Fever

3. Sore throat

4. Shortness of breath

Some preventative tips

Make sure you’re washing your hands correctly.

1. Wash your hands regularly with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin.

5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

6. Wear a mask whenever you leave the house.

7. Remember to stay at least 1.5 metres from people who live outside of your home.

For a more detailed overview of the coronavirus, we’ve locked-down on our COVID-19 knowledge

All about the COVID-19 tests

When should I get tested?

Some of us are itching to get tested because it’s flu-season but how do you know if it’s the flu or something else? It’s easy for your mind to wonder right now.

There is no need to panic though! According to the South African Government, “82% of COVID-19 cases are mild: patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and a cough. Only about 6% of patients need intensive care.” The vast majority of people are able to stay home and recover while self-isolating.

If you do suspect that you have COVID-19 and may need non-urgent medical care, contact your doctor telephonically or via a virtual consultation to allow them to assess your level of risk for the COVID-19 virus. They will guide you as to what to do next. It’s best not to go to the doctor in case you do actually have the virus, a virtual consultation is your best bet in the beginning.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends that you should only get tested if you display symptoms plus:

1. Been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 person

2. Travelled to a high-risk country

3. Worked in or been to a healthcare facility treating people with COVID-19

4. Have a severe case of pneumonia with an unknown cause

You can’t simply get a test merely because you want one. Tests are only given to those exhibiting symptoms and those referred by a doctor so if you’re ever in doubt or you’re worried, definitely give your doctor a call.

Read: Taking care of your mental health during a pandemic

How much will the test cost?

At public facilities, the tests are free but private laboratories such as Lancet, Ampath and Pathcare are able to do the COVID tests as well but it would be best to ask the laboratory you’re going to about the costs or get in touch with your medical aid. Most medical aids cover the cost of the test but it is best to check first.

Where can I get tested?

There are various testing facilities but as we mentioned, please check with your doctor before going for a test. You are also able to call the NICD helpline (0800 029 999) and you will be advised on possible testing facilities.

Most common testing facilities are some approved hospitals and the private laboratories mentioned above.

How is the test done?

It has been said that there are a few ways to test for the virus but the most common and accurate way of testing is by inserting a swab into your nasal cavity.

The test involves inserting a 15cm long swab (similar to an earbud) into the cavity between your nose and mouth for 15 seconds and rotating it several times. The swabbing is then repeated in your other nostril to make sure enough material is collected. The swab is then inserted into a container and sent to a lab for testing. It’s an uncomfortable experience, but luckily it is over very quickly!

It doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience but try your best to keep calm and it will be over before you know it!

How long do I have to wait to get my results?

It’s difficult waiting to see if you’ve tested positive for the virus but you may have to wait between  48-72 hours from when the test is taken and it arrives at the testing lab. Keep calm during this time though and make sure you stay home and self isolate to be extra safe.

This is still an uncertain time for many of us so we hope this gives you some idea of what to do if you suspect you need to get tested. Try your best to do everything you can to avoid contracting the virus and stay safe.

Yours in informative and affordable healthcare,

The Oneplan Team 

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