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Covid Swab Test FAQ

Coronovirus PCR Antigen Swab Test FAQ Leaflet

This leaflet is intended for patients of Dr Kumar-Beurg who have already discussed and decided to go ahead with Covid-19 swab testing and it serves as a reminder about advice that is usually given to patients during consultation. If you do not understand the following or feel it doesn’t apply to you then please ignore it or contact us for clarification.

 

What Test is Done?

We offer both the nasopharyngeal PCR swab and the the antibody blood test to detect if a patient is “currently suffering from” or has “ever been exposed to” Coronovirus Covid-19. This test is the Naso-Pharyngeal Swab which tells if the patient has active Coronovirus infection at the time of taking the swab.

 

Who Should Do the Test?

The test can be done to make a diagnosis in people who have current symptoms – at the time of testing – that are suggestive of Coronovirus. These include fever, cough, loss of taste/ smell, diarrhoea/ abdominal pain/ loss of appetite and fatigue/ “brain-fog”. It should not be done by people who think that they might have had the infection and already recovered. However there is clear evidence that some people (possibly many people) can have the Coronovirus infection without suffering any symptoms so it’s almost impossible to judge by a person’s symptoms alone.

 

Is the Test Accurate and Reliable?

The one word answer is – Yes.

The swab is processed by The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) which is a very well established service just off Harley Street in London that we have used for several years – it’s the largest Private Practice lab in the UK and also does extensive testing for the NHS including these PCR swab tests for Coronovirus.

The assays used at TDL show a minimum sensitivity of 98% (which means that if there’s any virus present on the swab then there’s less than a 2% chance of it being missed) and a specificity of 100%, with no cross-reactivity with other viruses (which means that it never gives a false positive result). These are the tests currently used by the NHS and are approved by Public Health England. They are fully compliant with government guidelines.

However no test is perfect and there will be some “false negatives” which is when the test says a person is free of a disease even though they do actually have it. With the Covid swab test the biggest reason for false negatives seems to be either (a) the person wasn’t shedding virus when the swab was taken or (b) the swab didn’t sample – didn’t touch – the area where the virus was present.

 

How Do I Take the Sample from Myself?

There are instructions in the kit; my personal guidance is to try to do the sample first thing in the morning on a Monday – Thursday and;

  • It’s easier to have someone help/ do it for you.
  • Only touch the outside of the collection tube and the red swab handle. Be very careful not touch the white cotton bud or the white stick of the swab.
  • Moisten the cotton bud with a few drops of tap water.
  • Pu the stick into your mouth as far as possible on the left hand side till it touches the left tonsil or the back of your throat … then … move it around and twist it around at least four times to ensure it makes good contact with a large area of the inside of your mouth/ throat.
  • Do the same on the right side of your tonsils/ throat.
  • Insert the swab up your left nostril as far as it will comfortably go … then … move it around and twist it around at least four times.
  • Do the same with your right nostril.
  • Put the swab back into the collection tube and press to click it closed.

There is a helpful video (although it is intended for health professionals) available at 2.27 minutes at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPRuKEzzz40&t=201s.

 

How Do I Return the Sample to the Lab?

To prepare the sample for return;

  • Put the collection tube back into the clear plastic sample bag.
  • If possible then please write the date of collection on the request form and …
  • Make sure the request form is in the clear sample bag.
  • Press to close the clear sample bag.
  • Put the clear sample bag into the yellow-white plastic mailing bag and seal it shut.
  • The mailing mag already has the lab’s address and postage paid stamp on it.

To dispatch the bag you can either;

  1. Send it using the pre-paid Royal Mail service. Because of service disruptions since the UK went into lock-down I think it’s better to use an alternative but if you decide to post the sample then I strongly recommend taking the sample to a post office in the morning and sending it as guaranteed next-day delivery but if the test is time sensitive then I recommend …
  2. Use a courier such as www.gophr.com or https://apc-overnight.com/ 0800 373737 … or …
  3. Use a taxi service (if they agree) such as Uber or a local minicab firm .. or …
  4. Delivery the sample to the lab yourself by hand as soon as it’s been done.

 

How Long Does it Take to Get the Result?

The official turn-around time for the samples is 2-3 days however we take steps to speed that up and usually have a result within 2 days of it getting to the lab and for very time sensitive tests we have always received the result the next working day (or sooner). As soon as we receive the result it will be sent to you by email, you will also receive a formal Dr’s Letter or Medical Declaration Letter and a hardcopy will be sent by post.

 

What Happens if Coronovirus is Detected? 

If the result says ” 2019-nCoV PCR Detected ” then that means that you do have the Coronovirus infection.  

The national guidance and instructions are being frequently updated so please make sure to read the up-to-date information on the links below (multiple languages). The main points you need to know are;

  1. Coronovirus is a “notifiable infection” which means that Doctors are obliged by law to inform Public Health England about every patient diagnosed with it. We will do that and PHE might make contact with you. We will also notify your registered NHS GP/ Practice with a copy of the test result. We recommend that you telephone or email your NHS GP/ Practice to make sure they know that you’ve been diagnosed with Coronvirus – do not go to the surgery in person. You don’t have to tell 111 that you’ve been diagnosed with coronovirus however it might be helpful to you especially if you need local help to isolate.
  2. You should self-isolate for 7 days – that means avoiding contact even with other people in your own household, please see the bullet points below.
  3. Your whole household should self-isolate for 14 days – that’s even more strict than the normal “social distancing” and “lock-down” rules and means none of your household going out of the house at all, not even for shopping, essential work or exercise. There are many local charities, social and church groups that are helping people who are staying indoors and some of them are listed below.
  4. If you get worse then you should seek further medical attention. You can contact us but please be aware that Cloud Health only offers routine booked appointments and does not offer an unscheduled or Out Of Hours Service. If you need more urgent care than we can provide then please telephone 111 or 999 as appropriate. Please do not go to a GP surgery, a Walk-in Centre or an A&E Department unless you’ve been given special instructions over the phone and told exactly where to go.
  5. There is no requirement or recommendation to do contact tracing or testing at this time but your household members should seek medical advice if they start to show any symptoms of Coronovirus.
  6. You may want to consider contacting people you have been in contact with in the two weeks prior to the test.

 

Self-Isolation Tips

  • You should try to use rooms that other household members don’t go into, keep the door of your room closed and open the windows as much as possible. If you do have to use the same rooms (eg bathroom) then …
  • you should try to go into the room after everyone else has finished using it … 
  • before you leave you should wipe down all surfaces with a disinfectant and …
  • keep any “contaminated” tissues/ wipes/ rags etc away from other people.
  • You should try to avoid eating with household members, ask them to leave food on a table/ tray outside your room and take it inside to eat. If possible use disposable plates/ cutlery, if not then they should wear long washing up gloves to handle any dirty crockery and not use those gloves for anything else.
  • Your clothes and bed-sheets can be cleaned with a normal or hot cycle in the washing machine – they don’t need to be boiled or destroyed.

 

References:

https://www.randox.com/coronavirus-randox/

https://www.randox.com/statement-covid19-testing/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

https://nextdoor.co.uk/

https://www.nationalcareforce.co.uk/

https://www.home-start.org.uk/news/support-for-families-who-are-self-isolating-during-the-coronavirus

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2762028?guestAccessKey=9e4e116a-7ab4-4a98-97b7-9b0bbedb5c6f

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