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Global health authorities have been adamant since the outbreak of the virus that the key to defeating COVID-19 is widespread testing. Coronavirus testing centres have appeared in thousands of locations, with their characteristic COVID-19 testing signs having become a staple feature in towns and cities all over the UK.

But what is it that makes COVID-19 testing such an important weapon in the fight-back against the virus?

In this FAQ, we take a brief look at some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject of COVID-19 testing and its unique relevance:

What Are the Benefits of COVID-19 Testing?

The main benefit of COVID-19 testing is its potential contribution to the limitation of virus transmission. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they can subsequently isolate themselves so as to no longer pose a threat to those around them.

In addition, anyone who has been in close contact with the individual in question can do likewise. Knowing who has COVID-19 and who they have been near is essential for preventing further transmission of the virus.

Testing also provides public health authorities with a clearer indication of where COVID-19 infections are most concentrated in a local, regional and national context.

When Would I Be Required to Take a Test?

There are three main instances when an individual would be instructed to take a Coronavirus test:

  1. If you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 and your healthcare provider advises you to get tested.
  2. If you have travelled to an area where transmission of COVID-19 is disproportionately high among the community.
  3. If you have been in close contact with an individual who either has COVID-19 or is demonstrating the symptoms of the virus.

It is also possible to arrange private testing at any time and for any reason, if you believe there is any chance you may be carrying the virus.

What Happens if I Test Positive?

If you receive a positive test result, it is highly likely that you are carrying COVID-19 and could pass the virus on to other people. In which case, you will be legally required to quarantine for the specified amount of time - doctors advising minimum of 14 days’ isolation.

What Are the Chances of a False Positive?

The likelihood of receiving negative (incorrect) results is extremely low. Therefore, a positive test result should always be treated as accurate and the necessary steps taken to prevent further spread of the virus.

What if My Test Result is Negative?

If your test result is negative and you are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you most likely do not have the virus. However, if you receive a negative test result but are experiencing any characteristic COVID-19 symptoms, you may have received a false negative - a far more common occurrence than false positives.

Even if your test result is negative, isolating yourself from others due to the symptoms you are facing is necessary to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Is the COVID-19 Test Dangerous in Any Way?

No - you may experience a certain amount of discomfort or irritation due to the specimen collection method, though there are no specific risks attached to the test whatsoever.

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