Coronavirus tests have become the most valuable tool in combating the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, as the government remains in the “contain” phase of its four-stage action plan. Officials have moved to confirm and isolate sufferers as part of the phase, which should prevent cases from spilling out into the rest of the population.
How do you get tested for coronavirus?
The NHS advises people who think they might have coronavirus to call 111.
The service is for people who have developed symptoms of the disease or recently returned from a country where COVID-19 is prevalent.
They also recommend people call the service if they believe they have been in contact with someone who had the virus.
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Currently, if the 111 operator believes the caller may have coronavirus, they will ask them to self-isolate.
However, if they believe further action is necessary, they may put people in touch with their local health protection team.
Health officials may then decide to conduct tests, which they may carry out in one of several ways.
People may receive testing at home, at the hospital, or in a drive-through facility to avoid further spreading.
Those asked to visit the hospital will undergo testing in a specially constructed isolation pod.
There, they are greeted by a nurse in protective clothing, who will take a cheek swab for testing.
Once the test has concluded, people will return home and remain in isolation until the illness passes.
Some hospitals now also support drive-in testing, which sees people remain in their car while a nurse takes a swab.
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The final option is a home visit, where officials in protective clothing will take tests during self-isolation.
Doctors or nurses send the test samples to a laboratory, and results often come on the same day.
Public Health England (PHE)’s target is to have results back within one to two days, but people are allegedly waiting up to four days to receive news.
So far, PHE has carried out roughly 25,000 tests in the UK, but the amount will soon increase.
The NHS announced it would also start testing for coronavirus, as the burden currently falls solely on PHE.
The move will double the amount of testing from 2,000 to 4,000 people per day.
A PHE spokesman said: “In the first instance, we are working to roll out the test to more labs rather than having staff on site 24 hours a day. We are still operating within capacity.
“Our capacity is closer to 2,000 a day across the UK at the moment and will be extended to around 4,000 in the coming weeks.”
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