COVID-19 Testing: What Everyone Needs To Know

COVID 19 testing

Thanks to the active testing for coronavirus, it has become easy for people to get tested and treated immediately. Although the cases of coronavirus are decreasing in most cities, people are still worried about their risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. Due to the fear that has gripped the entire nation, it is believed that getting tested for COVID-19 is one of the best ways to be on a safer side and panic-free. So if you are planning to get tested for coronavirus, here are a few things you need to be aware of!

Are you intrigued about the procedure, preparations and methods of the COVID-19 test in India? Here’s how COVID-19 testing works!

Who Should Get Tested For COVID-19?

According to the latest Advisory on Strategy for COVID-19 Testing in India by ICMR and MOHFW[1], here’s the people who should get tested for coronavirus.

1. All symptomatic (influenza-like symptoms) cases including health care workers and frontline workers. 

2. All asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts (in family and workplace, elderly ≥ 65 years of age, immunocompromised, those with comorbidities, etc.) of a laboratory-confirmed case to be tested once between day 5 and day 10 of coming into contact.

3. All asymptomatic high-risk individuals (elderly ≥ 65 years of age, those with comorbidities, etc.) in containment zones. 

4. All symptomatic (ILI symptoms) individuals with a history of international travel in the last 14  days.

5. All symptomatic (ILI symptoms) contacts of a laboratory-confirmed case and all symptomatic ILI cases among returnees and migrants within 7 days of illness.

6. All patients of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) and asymptomatic patients undergoing surgical / non-surgical invasive procedures (not to be tested more than once a week during hospital stay). 

7. All pregnant women in/near labor who are hospitalized for delivery and all symptomatic neonates presenting with acute respiratory/sepsis-like illness.  

8. Patients presenting with atypical manifestations [stroke, encephalitis, hemoptysis,  pulmonary embolism, acute coronary symptoms, Guillain Barre syndrome, Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome, progressive gastrointestinal symptoms, Kawasaki Disease (in pediatric age group)] based on the discretion of the treating physician. 

9. All individuals undertaking travel to countries/Indian states mandating a negative COVID-19  test at point of entry. 

10. All individuals who wish to get themselves tested.


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What To Do If I Have Cough/Cold?

– If you experience any symptoms similar to that of coronavirus infection, consult a physician online or over a call. The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, sore throat, dry cough, difficulty in breathing, and cold.

– If your doctor suspects coronavirus infection based on your travel/ contact history and symptoms, he/she may call you to check or you can ask to share a prescription for the test. Make sure the prescription contains your doctor’s stamp, signature, and medical registration number.

– You can even walk-in to any Government centres for COVID testing and get tested or book a test online.

– You may also need to show a Government ID ( Aadhaar card / Voter Id / Passport) which mentions the current address and contact number at the time of sample collection.

– You can either book COVID-19 online or call the MoHFW 24*7 helpline number for coronavirus: 011-23978046/ state helpline numbers.

If you stay in Mumbai, Delhi/NCR, Agra, Bangalore, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Meerut, Allahabad, Kanpur or Ahmedabad, then you can book the COVID-19 lab test online on our site. Book your slot now for home collection of your sample!

– In the meanwhile, follow home quarantine and make sure to maintain a distance of at least one meter with your family members.

What Does COVID-19 Test Mean?

There are two main tests for coronavirus testing.

1. Rapid antigen tests

These are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen which implies current viral infection. For this, a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab is performed to get the sample. These tests are relatively inexpensive, and most can be used at the point of care. Most of the currently authorized tests return results in approximately 15 minutes. Antigen tests for coronavirus are generally less sensitive than real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

2. RT-PCR test

It is a laboratory test that checks for the presence of coronavirus (genetic material of the virus – RNA) in the test sample. For this, you need to provide respiratory samples such as nose/throat swabs. A healthcare technician will collect the sample and send it for further investigation using real-time (r) Reverse Transcriptase (RT) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) (rRT-PCR) method. 

Not every lab in the country is equipped to test for coronavirus. As the virus is highly contagious only special labs are equipped to handle the COVID-19 samples.

As per the guidelines laid down by ICMR for private laboratories on March 21, 2020, the COVID-19 test can be conducted by a laboratory with a NABL accreditation for real-time PCR assay for RNA virus[2].

Planning to book tests online? Check out our exclusive range of lab test packages. Book NOW!

What Preparation Is Needed For This Checkup?

Currently, there are numerous tests available for the detection of coronavirus. These tests may include a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), which is a nasopharyngeal swab test or RT-PCR, where a sample is either a nasal, nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs, sputum, lower respiratory tract aspirate. No other preparation required before the sample collection.

Remember, there is no need to panic even if you test positive for coronavirus. Your family members and contacts may also be tested and quarantined at home or hospital. There is absolutely no need to worry as these steps will only ensure that you and your family members stay protected along with lowering the risk of spreading the virus at the community level. 

**Consult India’s best doctors here**

Let’s remain watchful and be careful. Be socially distanced, be safe!

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)

Recommended Reads:

COVID-19: What Is Social Distancing And How It Helps?

Coronavirus: How To Receive Packages Safely?


1. Revised Strategy of COVID19 testing in India (Version 3, dated 20/03/2020). Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Department of Health Research.

2. Notification_ICMR_Guidelines_Private_Laboratories.pdf. Ministry of Helath and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Government of India.

3.  COVID-19 testing – when and how? Noverl Coronavirus (COVID-19). Ministry of Helath and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Government of India.

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