There are laboratory tests that can identify the virus that causes COVID-19 in respiratory specimens.
Who should be tested
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.
- Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
- Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you come in contact with.
CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of coutry or local health departments and/or individual clinicians.
- Clinicians should work with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or work with clinical or commercial laboratories.
How to get tested
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your local health authority or a medical provider.
Ref: CDC [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html]
WHO recommends, if countries follow the sequesnce of detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission.
Even countries with high burden of COVID-19 can reduce spreading the virus within the community by tracing every contact of the tested positive cases. Base on the evidence on preventing spread of other infectious diseases, contact tracing exhibited positive outcome in reducing the spread of infection.
Reference: WHO [https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020]
WHO recommends that all suspected 2019-nCoV patients with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) be triaged at first point of contact with health care system and emergency treatment started based on disease severity.
For those presenting with mild illness, hospitalization may not be required unless there is concern for rapid deterioration. In these cases home health care provision may be considered. Other reasons for home health care include symptomatic patients no longer requiring hospitalization, where inpatient care is unavailable or unsafe (i.e. limited capacity and resources unable to meet demand for health care services) or in a case of informed refusal of hospitalization.
If any of these reasons exist, patients with mild symptomsa and without underlying chronic conditions such as lung or heart disease, renal failure, or immunocompromising conditions that place him/her at increased risk of developing complications may be cared for in the home environment. This decision requires careful clinical judgment and should be informed by assessing the safety of the patient’s home environment.
In case of home care provision, an assessment performed by a trained HCW should be done to verify whether the residential setting is suitable and appropriate for home care; if the patient and the family are capable of adhering to precautions that will be recommended as part of home care isolation (hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, environmental cleaning, limitation of movement, etc.) and to address safety concerns (e.g. accidental ingestion and fire hazards) before recommending alcohol-based hand rubs for household use.
A communication link with a health care provider/public health personnel should be established for the full duration of the home care period until the patient complete resolution of symptoms. More comprehensive information about the mode of 2019-nCov infection and transmission is required to define the duration of home isolation precautions.
Ref: WHO [Home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection presenting with mild symptoms and management of contacts
Isolation means staying at home when you have symptoms of with COVID-19 and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19, it is expected that you take the following measures:
- Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.
- Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
- Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.
- Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
- If you have to be in contact with others, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. Keep interactions brief and wear a face mask.
- Avoid contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults.
- Avoid contact with pets if you live with other people that may also be touching the pet.
Keep your hands clean
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.
- You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm or into a tissue.
Avoid contaminating common items and surfaces
- At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
- Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
- Use a store bought disinfectant to disinfect.
- Place contaminated items that cannot be cleaned in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
- Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.
Care for yourself
- Monitor your symptoms as directed by your health care provider or public health authority.
- If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority and follow their instructions.
- Get some rest, eat a balanced diet and stay in touch with others through communication devices.
Supplies to have at home when isolating
- Face masks (do not re-use)
- Eye protection
- Disposable gloves (do not re-use)
- Disposable paper towels
- Waste container with plastic liner
- Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Running water
- Hand soap
- Alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- Dish soap
- Regular laundry soap
- Regular household cleaning products
- Store bought disinfectant
- Bleach and a separate container for dilution
- Alcohol prep wipes
- Arrange to have your groceries delivered to you
Ref: Public Health, Canada [https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/covid-19-how-to-isolate-at-home.html]
Know How it Spreads:
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Take steps to protect yourself:
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a facemask if you are sick
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Ref: CDC [https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fprevention.html]