The world is now entering the unlock phase, and it is now even more challenging to stay away from more massive crowds. However, being around large groups makes you prone to the risk of COVID-19 contamination. If you get information about someone who has just tested positive and has been around the person recently, you should get a COVID-19 test done too. Besides, you must choose to isolate yourself for the next two weeks, even more, if there is someone vulnerable. Following this, you must also adhere to the rules of handwashing, social distancing, wearing masks, and more. As a result, you can keep infection at bay and reduce the risk of contamination.
Everyone around us is aware of the necessary precautions that are mandatory to follow. However, it may be challenging to follow all of it when you step out for work. For example, maintaining proper social distance is often a challenge when there are many people around you, such as in the market. Due to regular exposure, you may experience mild symptoms that may or may not be that of COVID-19. However, in that case, it is undoubtedly a wise decision to get yourself tested immediately.
When is a COVID-19 test mandatory?
According to a Ph.D., assistant professor at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Jason Yang, the understanding of COVID-19 is still not proper among people. The knowledge of the situation is always evolving in our heads. In this context, it is essential to mention that according to the latest figures, being a part of any crowd or a public gathering can put us at risk. Yang explains that a person, after attending a public gathering, may not immediately show symptoms. However, he/she may still be capable of transmitting the infection or virus. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, it is your social responsibility to get a COVID-19 test done if you have recently been a public gathering.
Other than the above case, you must immediately consult with a doctor and inform the local health officials if you are experiencing specific symptoms. For example, cough, fever, breathlessness, stomach upset, loss of taste, and smell are some of the first signs that may lead to a positive COVID-19 test report. Yang adds that if your job requires you to come in continuous touch with the public, you may, in this case, want proper tests done as well. However, the assistant professor says that you can still wait for a week or two before getting the tests done. In that case, isolating yourself at home is always a mandatory measure.
The incubation period of SARS-CoV-2
It is because the SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of 1-2 weeks. Therefore, the immediate test results may not bring out the actual condition. Later, you may experience the exact symptoms and be in a dilemma because you have already got a negative COVID-19 test report. So, the ideal decision is to isolate yourself for two weeks first and follow all the necessary measures. After that, if there are symptoms, first consult a doctor, and take his suggestion. Finally, you can get a test done as per the doctor’s recommendation.
Self-isolation is a good idea
Jason Yang says that there is still no official guide to give you the details of when you should opt for self-isolation. However, it is always a good idea to choose for the same if you have been a part of crowded gatherings lately. Especially if people around you were present without proper masks, self-isolation becomes more critical. Another assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Health, Brian Labus, further explains the requirement of self-isolation.
According to him, isolating yourself is crucial because you are still not aware of who else around you in the event was carrying the infectious virus. Additionally, Labus adds that isolation is mandatory if there are people in the family who you consider vulnerable to the infection. For example, infants and older adults are the ones who usually do not have an immune system as stable as yours. So, in case your body transmits the infection, they are the first ones to catch it. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, their operation is not strong enough to combat the effects of the novel coronavirus.
Well, self-isolation is not that difficult. What you have to do is not step out of home for two weeks at a stretch. Moreover, within the 14-day isolation period, you should try and avoid contact with anybody else. It counts your family members who stay with you as well. If you find out that you have not developed any symptoms by the end of the 14 days, you may consider yourself safe.
Antibody testing or COVID-19 test?
Before going for the tests, you need to know that there are two different types of the same. While one is directly a coronavirus test, the other is to detect antibodies that your body produces if you are experiencing infection symptoms. For a proper COVID-19 analysis, either there will be a saliva sample testing or swabbing inside the nasal cavity. Now, the health experts will analyze these samples to determine whether there is a coronavirus genetic code. On the other hand, for antibody testing, the doctor will require your blood sample. In this case, they will analyze the viral proteins present in your blood. It will help in the determination of the presence of antibodies.
Both the tests give out different information, says Jason Yang. On the one hand, a virus test will tell you the current status of whether you are infected. On the other hand, antibody testing reveals any infection cases that you may have experienced in the past. Now, it depends on you and what your doctor suggests. In that case, if you are suspecting an active infection, then you must directly go for a proper COVID-19 test. Later, when you recover, your doctor may suggest an antibody testing. Yang also says that none of the antibody tests can give you a 100% confirmation that you will not get infected again in the future.
Process of a COVID-19 test
According to Labus, PCR testing is readily available wherever you are. The full form of PCR is the polymerase chain reaction. It is one of those examinations done in the laboratory to detect genetic virus materials in your swab or saliva sample. A PCR test will also determine whether the sample belongs to the SARS-CoV-2 virus community. If you get a positive test report, it will become clear that you have an active coronavirus infection.
In a situation where you cannot understand where to go for a test, consulting with the local health officials is the best thing to do. You may also call a doctor in advance, inform him about your symptoms, and see if he can get tested. Moreover, active health insurance will cover the cost of all the treatment. However, make sure to speak with the insurance carrier to understand the coverage specifications better.
Protect yourself when you step out
Experts suggest that avoiding large groups and gatherings is an ideal way to protect yourself. You must understand that the lesser the people around you, the lower the risk of infection. However, if you plan to participate in a gathering such a protest, distancing maybe even more difficult. Still, it is your responsibility to maintain as much distance as possible if you must be a part of a crowd.
According to the recommendation of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 6-feet (two arm’s length) between you and anybody around is the correct way of distancing. Apart from this, wear a mask at all times when you are around people. This will not just protect you, but everyone else around you as well. Using a proper sanitizer (with a minimum of 60% alcohol content), and washing your hands with soap frequently are other necessary measures.
Although the ideal way to protect yourself is to maintain proper social distance, it may not be possible. So, you must follow the necessary precautions if there is a compulsion for you to be part of a public gathering. You must keep in mind certain things whenever you step out. It is that, you are at the risk of transmission and contracting the virus. Make sure that you are wearing masks and using sanitizers at all times. Following the event, you may also want to isolate yourself for 14 days or go for a proper COVID-19 test. It becomes even more critical if you get to know that you came in contact with someone who has already tested positive. Stay safe, and stay protected!