Why is “COVID-19” testing important?
When a communicable disease outbreak begins, the ideal response is for public health officials to begin testing for it early.
That leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated.
While we are obviously not in that ideal situation with COVID-19, testing remains critical.
It’s crucial of course to help treat, isolate or hospitalize people who are infected. Testing also is important in the bigger public health picture on mitigation efforts, helping investigators characterize the prevalence, spread and contagiousness of the disease.
What is the Sample Required for COVID-19 Testing?
In order to diagnose current infections, we would opt for collection of upper respiratory Tract specimens such as Oropharyngeal (OP) or nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs
Collecting the OP swab: We insert a swab into the posterior pharynx and tonsillar areas. Then, we would rub swab over both tonsillar pillars and posterior oropharynx without touching the tongue, teeth, and gums.
Collecting the NP swab: We insert a flexible swab through the nares parallel to the palate (not upwards) until resistance is encountered or the distance is equivalent to that from the ear to the nostril of the patient indicating contact with the nasopharynx. Then gently, we rub and roll the swab.
Other samples that we are able to test include, Nasal Mid-Turbinate (NMT), Anterior Nares (AN) and Oral/Saliva (O/S)
What Testing Preparation Needed?
There is no preparation needed. All testing for SARS-CoV-2 should be conducted in consultation with a healthcare provider. Specimens should be collected as soon as possible once a decision has been made to pursue testing, regardless of the time of symptom onset.