What Happens When You Go For Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing?

Dijawab oleh: Dr Sri Viknarajan
Dikemaskini pada: Julai 24, 2020

Soalan:
Hello and good day doctor. I am a UM student living in Petaling Jaya. As you might know, this area is considered a red zone for COVID-19. I am quite worried if I will get infected. Just in case I am infected, can you explain what will happen during the test? Will it be painful? I hope you can help me. Thank you.
Jawapan:
Hi, thank you for your question. I know you must be worried. But as long as you follow the MCO and practice good hygiene, I hope you will be protected from this virus. For your information, the test for COVID-19 is very simple. It’s basically collecting nasal swab and your sputum for the detection of the virus. The test can be quite uncomfortable, but it won’t harm you. I will explain this further in the article. Hope this helps.

There must be many who are wondering what will happen or things that someone will be facing when they go for a COVID-19 test. Are they going to be separated from others and being quarantined in a special room at the hospital? Is there a blood sample that needs to be taken and to be sent to the laboratory for the screening and confirmation diagnosis of COVID-19?

To know the things or procedures that had to be faced by the individuals that went for the screening of COVID-19, we have to understand some terms or special words used by the healthcare workers in combating and managing the patients during this pandemic time that affects the whole world.

One of the terms that we usually hear is the word “Patient Under Investigation” (PUI) or in simple words, this word is referring to the group that has the symptoms similar to the COVID-19 patients like fever, difficulty in breathing, cough, sore throat, and just coming back from or recently traveled to countries that are badly affected with the disease in the 14 days before the onset of illness or those who are having close contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19. The confirmed case is considered a positive case of COVID-19 once the result from the laboratory came out to be positive.

So, not everyone who has similar symptoms needs to be screened and to go for a COVID-19 test. This is because the symptoms that are experienced by the patients are not specific and can be caused by other types of diseases or problems. Only those who fulfilled the criteria of PUI and close contact are needed and are advised to undergo the screening test of COVID-19. So, what will happen when someone undergoes the COVID-19 test?

First of all, when the patient arrives at the clinic/ hospital to get the COVID-19 test, they will be put and isolated from other outpatients. This is depending on where the patient is having the test and screening because some of the clinics provide a place for the isolation and in other places, some may have a special room for the test to be done. The doctor responsible for the intervention will wear special personal protective equipment (PPE) or in a simple word, it is like protection clothes and they will start with taking the medical history of the patient, their travel history and their close contacts. Then, the doctor will start to do some physical examination on the patient like auscultating the patient’s lung, checking the vital signs and whatnot. If the patient is found to have close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 or the patient is fulfilling the criteria of PUI, then he/she will be advised to get a further physical examination and investigation.


Health workers like doctors, nurses, of assistant doctors, will take a sample from the patient’s respiratory system. This includes the sample from the upper respiratory tract and the lower respiratory tract. Samples from the lower respiratory tract include the deep cough sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage, tracheal aspirate, pleural fluid, and lung tissue. Meanwhile, the samples from the upper respiratory tract are like the nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab, aspirate or even wash. The samples are then being put in a sterile container and to be maintained in a 4-degree Celsius temperature and will be put in three layers of container called the “Triple Packaging” before being sent to the laboratory for confirmation purposes. There is no blood sample will be taken and patients who are afraid of the needle do not have to worry about it.

At the laboratory, the sample will be used in a procedure called “ Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction” (rRT-PCR) and results can be received within a few hours or days depending on the number of staffs, the number of the machine, and the number of patients that underwent the proses. If the patient is found to be positive, or the condition of the patient is not clinically well, then the patient will be admitted into the ward and will be treated until 2 samples taken 42 hours separately are to be found negative with the condition of the patient that has already improved. 




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