While everyone knows that we are currently in a pandemic, we are aware that some people have minimal knowledge about the virus and its effect on the population. So, we would like to answer some commonly asked questions about COVID-19 to help you gain a greater understanding of the current situation.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). In 2019 a new strain of coronavirus that had not been seen in humans before was discovered and named COVID-19. It is a respiratory virus that can cause pneumonia and kidney failure in severe cases, which is why we are having to take drastic measures to slow the spread.
How does COVID-19 spread and what can I do to protect myself?
COVID-19 is spread by invisible droplets. To contract it you need to be in close contact with a sick person, e.g. same place, direct contact within a metre during a discussion, cough, sneeze etc. You can also contract the disease from contact with unwashed hands contaminated with the virus or an object that has been touched by someone contaminated, although the virus will normally die after a few hours on a surface.
In order to protect yourself and others from COVID, you should wear a mask in public settings, even if you do not have any symptoms you may still have the virus and therefore could spread it. It is important to note that your mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing; you must still stay at least 1 metre away from people who are not in your household.
Avoid crowds to reduce the risk of exposure. While it would be lovely to go for a walk in the park or into town it is important to consider how many other people will be there. If you do decide to go to a crowded place outdoors it would be worth wearing your mask.
Avoid or spend as little time as possible in poorly ventilated spaces. If you are able to, open doors and windows to let the fresh air in. For example, on buses and trains opening the windows may reduce your chance of infection.
Make sure to keep your hands clean, wash them with soap regularly for at least 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song!). If you are unable to wash your hands, use sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol. It is important to wash your hands before preparing food, before touching your face, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Clean and disinfect your surfaces regularly such as door handles, tables, worktops, and your mobile phone. Also, ensure you cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow otherwise you will be spreading germs to people and surfaces around you.
COVID-19 symptoms and how long it lasts?
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- High temperature – if you feel hot to touch (on your head, chest, or back)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – If you’ve noticed something smells or tastes different from normal, or you are unable to smell or taste at all
- New continuous cough – this means if you have multiple coughing fits in a 24-hour period or cough multiple times over an hour
Other symptoms could be shortness of breath, pressure in your chest, fatigue, and bodily aches.
The length of time you are infectious depends on how severe your symptoms are. If you have a mild case then you should no longer be infectious 10 days after symptoms start (or if you are asymptomatic, 10 days after you test positive). More severe cases may last longer, therefore it is important to continue to isolate after the required 10 days if your symptoms continue.
How accurate is the COVID-19 test?
No COVID-19 test is 100% accurate, however, measures can be taken to ensure the result is as accurate as possible.
Our PCR tests have a 99% accuracy rate. We use trained healthcare professionals to take the tests for patients at our testing sites and work with a UKAS accredited lab to produce the results. In the event that a test comes back inconclusive, we will offer a free retest, however, the likelihood of this is minimal.
We use the leading Roche Rapid Antigen swab test. It is believed to be accurate at identifying infection in someone with symptoms, however, not efficient for testing if you are COVID free to go on holiday as it is not as sensitive as the PCR test.
Our Antibody test (to check if you have previously been infected) is 99% accurate. People who believe they have received a false negative may have had a different virus causing symptoms such as rhinoviruses or influenza. There is also a chance that the response you develop to COVID may be weaker than others and therefore undetectable, or you are protected by a completely different part of the immune system (T-cells) which we cannot test for. Antibody levels decrease over time in all patients. Unfortunately, there is currently no clear research detailing this time period.
How to get tested for COVID-19 and when?
If you are experiencing any of the three main symptoms listed above then you should self-isolate and get tested for COVID as soon as possible. You should also get a test and isolate if you have been in contact or close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID 19.
Only leave isolation to get your test done, alternatively, you can order a home test kit – you can book an appointment and order a test online.
The PCR test is taken via a throat and nasal swab. If you are coming in for a test this will be done for you by one of our trained healthcare professionals, once your swab has been taken you must return to isolation until you receive your results.
If you choose to order a home testing kit you will either have to take the test yourself or ask a member of your household to help you. The kit will include full instructions; once you have taken the test post it back to us and continue to isolate until you receive your results. If you are flying abroad you may need to take a Fit-to-Fly PCR test. Many countries require a fit to fly certificate showing that you have tested negative for coronavirus with a PCR test, typically within 48-96hrs of your flight. We offer Fit-to-Fly tests with Same Day, Next Day & 48-hour turnaround. This is also a throat and nasal swab test.
What happens if you test positive for COVID-19?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you need to self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started. If you have no symptoms self-isolate for 10 days from the day of your test, but you must restart the 10 days if you develop symptoms. After the 10 days, you can leave isolation if you have no symptoms at all or just a cough or changes to taste or sense of smell. However, if after 10 days you have a high temperature, runny nose, diarrhea, or sickness you must continue to isolate until these symptoms subside. Anyone in your household and support bubble (if they have been in contact with you) must also self-isolate for 10 days.
If you are worried about your symptoms or are unsure of what to do, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service here: NHS 111 online – About coronavirus (COVID-19)
Isolation means that you cannot leave the house for anything (including exercise and food shopping), you can order shopping to your door or ask someone you know to drop shopping at your door. You cannot have anyone over to visit while you are isolating.
For more information, take a look at our Covid 19 testing page for more information.
Who is affected by the virus?
Everyone is at risk of contracting the virus. Studies show that older people and those with certain health conditions are at higher risk; however, anyone can catch the virus so it is important that everyone follows social distancing guidelines.
How long does a COVID-19 test take?
It’s a very quick process and only takes minutes to get your throat and nasal swab.
How long does it take to get COVID-19 test results?
It depends on the type of test you have booked; a Rapid test will take 2-4 hours whereas you will have to wait about 48 hours for your PCR test results. For the Fit-to-Fly test, we offer Same Day, Next Day & 48-hour turnaround.
How do I book a COVID test?
Simply head to our website Private Covid Test London | Covid-19 testing | My Healthcare Clinic to book a test on our online portal.
Should children wear a mask?
Generally, children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a face mask. However, they may be advised to wear them in some situations e.g. areas of a school where it is hard to social distance.