When Should You Get Tested For COVID-19?

We’re almost two years into the global pandemic – which is a phrase nobody hoped we’d be saying back in 2020. Unfortunately, the virus didn’t just disappear as we hoped, and we’re now at a stage where learning to live with it is the next step. The good news is that vaccinations and natural immunities are helping us deal with the virus better than we initially did. People that are vaccinated are not getting seriously ill, meaning there’s hope that this can eventually become a seasonal virus that doesn’t halt life – like the flu.

Nevertheless, there are still things that we need to do as a global community to help stop the spread of the virus and protect those in need of protection. Primarily, you have two main things to do: get your COVID-19 vaccines and undergo testing. This is what confuses a lot of people as they wonder when they need to be tested for the virus. Should you only test if you have symptoms? Do you need to test before going places? What are the rules?

Generally, if you need to have a negative test before going somewhere, it will be stated clearly for you. As an example, most airlines demand tests before boarding, as do foreign countries before you enter them. Other companies and events may also have their own testing rules, so be sure to check before you try to go somewhere. As for general testing, here are a couple of things that most health experts recommend you do: 

Take a lateral flow if you have symptoms, then a PCR if you’re positive

Lateral flow tests (LFTs) are quick and easy for you to do at home. They provide results within 30 minutes and can be extremely accurate at detecting the virus in people with or without symptoms. If you start exhibiting some of the telltale signs of COVID, you should take a test at home. In fact, you should probably take more than one, just to get a more accurate spread of results. 

If your tests are positive, you should look to get a PCR as confirmation of your results. You can usually get one of these tests at any urgent care center near you, and the results come back in a couple of days. During this time, you should isolate as you have had a positive LFT. When you get your results, they will tell you if you have COVID or not. There are instances where you can have a positive LFT and a negative PCR. The PCR is more accurate, so health experts suggest you go by what those results say. 

Take lateral flows regularly

Alongside this, it is advised that you take lateral flows regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms. You could be asymptomatic and still spread the virus, so this is a good added precaution to take. Especially if you are always in close contact with lots of different people. One test a week or every couple of days will give you peace of mind that you don’t have COVID – or it can tell you that you do, so you can get a PCR and protect others from catching the virus. 

In summary, it’s crucial to get a test if you suspect you have COVID, but you should also take one now and then as an added precautionary measure.

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