The test is to determine if you have a current infection of Covid-19. This will NOT identify if you have developed antibodies to Covid-19
The swab can be taken at home by the patient. It tests for the presence of the virus, by a PCR assay which is a laboratory-based process that usually takes 48 hrs to return the result once the laboratory receives the sample back. This will confirm the presence or absence of the Covid-19 virus in those individuals. This test is approved by Public Health England.
The laboratory that analyses the tests is an established UKAS – accredited laboratory.
Infection with Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), an RNA virus, is diagnosed using reverse-transcriptase PCR. The assays used show a minimum sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 100%, with no cross-reactivity with other viruses.
If you are currently experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with a person now infected you should implement the government recommended guidelines for isolating. Please click here for symptoms and latest guidance.
The majority of people with COVID-19 have uncomplicated or mild illness (81%), with non-specific symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough (with or without sputum production), anorexia, malaise, muscle pain, sore throat, dyspnea, nasal congestion, or headache. Rarely, patients may also present with diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Loss of taste and smell has been reported early in the infection.
A relatively small proportion of people, particularly but by no means exclusively in those aged >70 years, will develop severe illness requiring oxygen therapy (14%) and approximately 5% will require intensive care unit treatment. Time from the onset of the infection to hospitalisation can be up to ~13 days. The most common diagnosis in severe COVID-19 patients is severe pneumonia; this can progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome, and life-threatening multi-organ dysfunction and death. Mortality has been estimated at between 1 and 2% of those infected, the higher figure in men.
Current testing for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is rapidly evolving.
Laboratory review of new assays as they become available is essential.