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What to do if you test positive for COVID

What to do if you test positive for COVID

Testing positive for COVID-19 is scary, but there are steps to take if you do happen to test positive. There are also a few things you should do before you are tested, just to ensure that you aren’t putting anyone else at risk. 

What do I do if I think I have the virus?

If you suspect that you have contracted COVID-19, the best thing to do is isolate yourself. The virus has a 14-day minimum incubation period, which means that even if you have contracted coronavirus, you would only be symptomatic after two weeks. 

Then again, the virus presents differently in every single person. Some people may be asymptomatic, even though they test positive.  This means that they are carrying the virus and can infect others, but have no outward symptoms. 

Then, you can call the toll-free screening line that has been allocated to your city. There may not be tests available immediately, but the operator will assess your symptoms from what you tell him or her. Then, if necessary, you will be given instructions on where to go to get tested. 

Some people choose the private testing route. This is usually covered by medical aid, and certain medical insurance companies cover it to some degree. 

If your symptoms are consistent with an acute upper respiratory infection, which could be COVID-19, the flu, the common cold, or some other respiratory infection, you should isolate yourself at home, says Health Grades. This means that you must not leave the house unless you have been instructed to visit a healthcare facility.

Let your family and friends know that you have chosen to remain in full isolation. Be sure to keep virtual contact with someone, though. You need to check in with someone at least once a day, at a dedicated time in case your symptoms get worse and you need them to send medical interventions. 

If you know that you have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have contracted the virus, be sure to inform anyone who you have made contact with since then. This gives that person a chance to also isolate and stop the virus from potentially spreading any further. 

How is the test performed?

The test is fairly simple. 

There have been many viral videos on social media that show how the test is performed, but these have also been used to scare people into social distancing. Yes, the test is uncomfortable, but very few people who have undergone the procedure have complained of it being painful. It is also a completely safe test, even though it does look quite invasive.

At the facility that you choose to use for your test, a trained healthcare professional will use nasal and throat swabs to get a specimen of your fluids. The swab will either be pushed through your nose, deep into your throat, or through one of your nostrils. It is an outpatient procedure, so you will go home immediately after. You will be responsible for your own care unless you are already hospitalised. The doctor who ordered the test will contact you with the results. For the most frequently administered COVID-19 test, it takes 3 to 5 days to get the test result from the time your sample is collected.

If your test was reported to be positive, then genetic material from the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was found in your specimen and you have confirmed coronavirus disease. This disease is now also called COVID-19, explains the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

If you test positive for COVID-19

So, now you have gotten confirmation that you do in fact have COVID19. Calm down. There is no need to panic. You have to keep a clear head so that you can handle the next few weeks of care that you will need to undertake. Most people get very mild symptoms. If you do not have a comorbidity, you may very well just get symptoms similar to a very bad bout of the flu. That doesn’t mean that this virus isn’t dangerous, but for most people, it is survivable. 

Your first step is to remain isolated. Even if the test result was negative, remain in quarantine for the full two weeks. 

If your result was positive, though, you may need to isolate for longer than that. Your symptoms may last for a month or more. As long as you have symptoms, you need to remain in isolation.

If you are asymptomatic, you must be tested every two weeks until you get a negative result. 

Treat the symptoms

There is no cure for the coronavirus, but there are loads of over-the-counter meds that you can purchase to make your recovery more manageable. 

Pain killers, flu meds, vitamin C supplements and many other drugs can fight the aches and pains and nasty symptoms as well as build up your immune system.  

If you are quarantining in a home that is shared with others, isolate to a single room, if possible. Use your own bathroom, utensils and other usually shared spaces and items. If the whole family has tested positive, still practise caution. There’s very little research to confirm that there is no chance of reinfection.

Clean up

Keeping the home clean is a given, but there is a need to be extra cautious now that the virus is in your house. 

Sanitise counters, floors, and the toilet and basin daily. Use some bleach in the cleaning water, especially when washing the dishcloths and towels. As far as possible, everyone should have his/her own equipment.

Stay in contact with your doctor or the healthcare professional who is guiding you through this time. This could get pricey, without the cover of a medical insurance like Affinity Health. 

Even though the virus can’t be cured, your GP could prescribe medications to ease your recovery. If you do need to be hospitalised at some point, it will do well to have sufficient cover. 

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