Amidst the 21-day lockdown and the increasing cases of COVID-19 across the country, most people are worried about their risk of getting infected with 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. However, this is not a good idea because not everyone needs or can get tested for COVID-19. The reason being
-COVID-19 cases in India are mostly imported cases.
-It has resulted in limited local transmission of the virus to their immediate contacts.
-A doctor is the best guide here.
Doctor’s prescription is a must to get tested for COVID-19.
-If everyone gets tested, there will be a scarcity of the test kits which can further prevent testing of the actual suspects.
However, community transmission of the virus has not yet been reported till 31st March 2020. In case, community transmission is reported, there will be changes in the current testing strategy, reveals ICMR.
This brings back to the main query of who should get tested, what is the cost, when to get tested, etc. So let’s get clear all your myths and queries about COVID-19 testing for once and all.
Who Should Get Tested For COVID-19?
According to the MOHFW and ICMR guidelines, if a person falls in one of the five criteria*, then they should get tested for COVID-17. It includes:
– All those who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days and have symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing ).
– All those who are contacts of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 infection and show symptoms of coronavirus.
– All healthcare workers showing symptoms of coronavirus.
– All hospitalized patients with severe acute respiratory illness (showing symptoms such as fever and cough and/or shortness of breath)
– All direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case without any symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in contact with the confirmed case.
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 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 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?
COVID-19 test 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.
What Preparation Is Needed For This Checkup?
This test involves a simple swab test of the throat. No other preparation required before the sample collection.
The cost of the test is capped at Rs.4500 for private labs, which includes Rs.1500 for conducting screening test of the suspect and Rs.3000 for confirmation test.
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.
Let’s remain watchful and be careful. Be socially distanced, be safe!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. Revised Strategy of COVID19 testing in India (Version 3, dated 20/03/2020). Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Department of Health Research. https://icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/upload_documents/2020-03-20_covid19_test_v3.pdf
2. Notification_ICMR_Guidelines_Private_Laboratories.pdf. Ministry of Helath and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Government of India. https://icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/whats_new/Notification_ICMR_Guidelines_Private_Laboratories.pdf
3. COVID-19 testing – when and how? Noverl Coronavirus (COVID-19). Ministry of Helath and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Government of India. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FINAL_14_03_2020_ENg.pdf