Testing for COVID-19

Testing for COVID-19

What do we mean by testing?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are various methods that you may see being utilised to ascertain whether you may be at risk of infection. Rapid measures include checks for symptoms including fever (temperature) scanning on entry to buildings. More thorough testing involves taking samples/ swabs to test for infection.

What methods will be utilised as we exit lock-down?

In order to facilitate the loosening of regulations/ moving away from lock-down, a more aggressive strategy is required with regards to the isolation of individuals who test positive. In addition to testing people with symptoms of COVID-19, we are testing front-line workers (particularly healthcare workers and carers) on a regular basis.

Every individual identified as positive will be contacted and asked to isolate for 10 days. The same individual will be asked who they have been in contact with, and all those deemed to be at risk will also be required to self-isolate* (*this will be directed by the public health team).

You can read more about data protection and your privacy here.

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a targeted method for breaking chain of transmission from one person to another and a fundamental part of outbreak control used by public health professionals. Contact tracing helps to control the ‘R’ number of a virus.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19 they are contacted, and as part of the interview process they are asked to identify anyone who has had close contact with them. During the time they are considered to be infectious (as stipulated by the Public Health team), a close contact will have:

  • come from the same household
  • been within 2 metres of the infected person for 15 minutes or more
  • come into direct contact with infected fluids (from a cough, sneeze or blood sample etc .)

Those identified as close contacts will be contacted immediately. They will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days and followed up regularly.  This 10-day isolation period is mandatory as it covers the potential incubation period for COVID-19.

Please respect the advice of the Contact Tracing Bureau (CTB).

The CTB carry out risk assessments to determine whether isolation is necessary; they will advise whether you need to self isolate or not, this advice will vary from case to case.

For young adults under 18 years of age, the CTB will make contact by phone (wherever possible) and ask for the parent or guardian’s permission to continue the call.

What is meant by incubation period?

Most people who become infected with COVID-19 develop symptoms around five or six after exposure (as opposed to straight away), although this can range from one to 14 days. 

Why is this important?

If you are identified as a close contact, you will be asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days – by which time most people will have developed symptoms if they have become infected.  Adherence to this 10-day home isolation is very important in order to control viral spread, particularly as we begin to relax lock-down measures.

Click here for more information on close contacts.

If a close contact becomes unwell during their isolation period, they should call 111  for further public health advice.