COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
SARS-CoV-2 stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus2. Therefore, from an epidemiological standpoint, SARS-CoV-2 is among the emerging and reemerging diseases, causing mild to severe symptoms in infected individuals.
Although people with mild symptoms often recover without much medical attention, others develop critical conditions. As a result, in collaboration with the center for disease control, the Chinese embassy recommends everyone be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
However, as China commences massive COVID-19 testing in Beijing and other major cities, you require COVID-19 testing whether you have been vaccinated or not before traveling to China. Also, you need to prove that the test assistant or healthcare professional has collected your sample for the test a day before your trip to validate your negative test result.
What is COVID-19 Testing, and why do you need it?
COVID-19 testing involves a series of investigations (laboratory and rapid tests) to detect the presence of the viral infection. The tests are specific for detecting the viral presence of antibodies your body makes in response to an infection.
COVID-19 testing for viral detection identifies the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease. Also, COVID-19 viral tests are carried out to detect the COVID-19 antigen or viral nucleic acid via the nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs).
The antibody tests detect antibodies your body has made due to a previous infection with the COVID-19 causing virus. If you have been previously vaccinated, your body also produces COVID-19 antibodies, so you should always discuss your tests with your healthcare provider.
COVID-19 testing is essential to minimize the spread and risk of infection among the human population. It is mainly for those traveling and always in transit. However, even after testing and vaccination, high-level precautions are advised to maintain safety, especially when traveling.
What are the various types of covid-19 tests?
COVID-19 testing is done to detect the presence of the virus or antibodies your body produces due to COVID-19 viral exposure.
Therefore, two major categories for COVID-19 tests exist:
- Virial COVID-19 test, and
- Antibody COVID-19 tests
For the viral COVID-19 testing, you can either have a laboratory test or a rapid/ point-of-care test. Laboratory tests take a few days, about one to three days, to complete and include detailed analytical methods like RT-PCR techniques, including NAATs. In contrast, rapid or point-of-care tests are conducted within minutes of testing and involve some antigens.
Additionally, self-test kits for COVID-19 exist under rapid or point-of-care tests and are particular for those who want to complete the tests at home. Besides the time it takes to generate test results, the primary difference between the laboratory tests and the rapid test is that the laboratory test is reliable for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.
In contrast, the rapid test may not be reliable for people without symptoms, especially antigen tests. The viral tests are specific for the SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen responsible for the COVID-19 infection.
On the other hand, the antibody tests focus on your body’s defense system to determine a previous case of infection or exposure to the virus. The reason is that when you are exposed to the virus or have an infection, your body’s natural defense system kicks in to salvage the situation.
Memory cells like T-helper cells are also produced to store the antigen or infection information for later use. As a result, if you get further exposure to the same antigen or disease, your body’s defense system recalls a previous exposure. It causes an immune response and releases the manufactured antibody to ready proper and more effective defense for your body system.
When should you go for a COVID-19 test?
Getting tested protects you and the general public from getting and spreading COVID-19. Essentially, some governments recommend getting tested as part of your civic duties to help prevent the infection and spread of the virus.
Here are situations for which a COVID-19 test is highly recommended.
- If you notice any of the COVID-19 symptoms
- If you have been in close contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 patient
- During screening for work, school, and other public gatherings
- Before and after you travel
- Under the request of your healthcare professional or public health authority.
Reasons to postpone your Travel or cancel your trip.
Due to state travel laws and the need to protect lives, through enforcing COVID-19 precautionary protocols, you should not travel if you reckon the following situations:
- Develop COVID-19 symptoms whether or not you are up-to-date on your vaccines
- COVID-19 recovery within the last 90 days
- Awaiting COVID-19 laboratory test results
- A positive COVID-19 test result
- Less than five days after close contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient
- Lack of proper fitting face masks and hand sanitizers
Who are the vulnerable groups for COVID-19
Although some people show mild symptoms of COVID-19, the viral infection poses more significant risks for the following demographics:
- Babies or infants
- The elderly population
- Pregnant or expectant mothers
- Immunocompromised individuals
- People with critical medical conditions like heart, kidney, or liver disease.
In the absence of critical medical conditions, most adults in their prime, adolescents, and teenagers with a robust immune system do not show acute symptoms of COVID-19.
Interestingly, some people have been reported to show significant immunity to the virus. Still, it does not rule out the possibility of being carriers and contributing to the widespread of the infection.
Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises on the need for proper nutrition, sufficient exercise, and rest to boost one’s immunity. Alternatively, several over-the-counter multivitamin supplements have skyrocketed in sales to provide immune support for the general human population.
COVID-19 tests offered within the GTA for China travel clearance
If you are in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Kingston and London and plan on traveling to the People’s Republic of China, you can get tested at Swift Clinics locations.
These locations offer standardized COVID-19 tests within the Greater Toronto Area. These COVID-19 tests are recommended and authenticated by the People’s Republic of China, collaborating with the center for disease control and the Canadian health authority.
Below are a few test types offered at Swift Clinics, particularly if you are traveling to China.
- COVID-19 PCR(polymerase chain reaction) swab testing
- COVID-19 NAAT(Nucleic acid amplification tests) swab testing
- COVID-19 Antibody Testing
- COVID-19 rapid point-of-care tests
COVID-19 tests for travel clearance are provided as pre-departure tests. Most government authorities will require evidence of tests and up-to-date documentation of COVID-19 vaccination before granting you entry into their country.
COVID-19 Post-test Protocol
After your COVID-19 test, your following line of action will depend on your test result, whether positive or negative. Here are a few things you should do after you have gotten your test result.
Protocol for positive COVID-19 test result
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, here is what you should do afterward.
- You should self-isolate for about five days while observing other necessary precautions.
- Go for a confirmatory or follow-up COVID-19 laboratory test
- Have your healthcare professional monitor your symptoms and possible recovery.
Protocol for negative COVID-19 test result
If you have tested negative for COVID-19, here is what you should do afterward.
- Update yourself on COVID-19 vaccination if you have already begun vaccination.
- Observe all COVID-19 precautionary protocols like social distancing, hand washing, face masks, etc.
- Be in quarantine for at least five days if you have not begun vaccination and have symptoms or have been exposed.
The COVID-19 precautionary protocols are mandatory for everyone to contribute toward minimizing the spread of the infection, particularly in public places and gatherings. Therefore every law-abiding individual is expected to comply. Travelers are the highest contributing factor to the spread of the disease and are required to show evidence of COVID-19 tests and current vaccination at the borders to gain entry. China commences massive COVID-19 testing in Beijing and other major cities, you require COVID-19 testing whether you have been vaccinated or not before traveling to China.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I be tested for COVID-19 after vaccination?
Even after vaccination, you should be tested for COVID-19 because vaccinated individuals are still at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Your risk of COVID-19 infection increases with more chances for movement, such as traveling from one state or country to another. Also, several travel agencies and embassies require evidence of recent COVID-19 testing as flight clearance before you travel.
Can I get a positive COVID-19 test result after previously testing negative?
An initial negative COVID-19 test result does not rule out the possibility of a latent infection. A positive COVID-19 test result is possible even after testing negative because there are chances that your initial testing happened before the COVID-19 antibodies became detectable. Similarly, a case of the flu or other likely illness can create a smoked screen with your COVID-19 test results. Also, if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and tested negative after five days, you could be a carrier that does not rule out any infection. Your negative result only means the time of testing was pretty early to detect the virus.
What does it mean when a person is asymptomatic or presymptomatic of COVID-19?
An asymptomatic person tests positive for COVID-19 but does not manifest any symptoms of the viral infection. In contrast, a presymptomatic person tests positive for COVID-19 but initially does not manifest any symptoms until later as the disease progresses. Both asymptomatic (no signs) and presymptomatic (delayed signs) COVID-19 individuals contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, necessitating more frequent COVID-19 testing.
What situations facilitate the quick transmission of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is quickly transmitted through contaminated air from tiny droplets, airborne particles, and contact with contaminated or infected body fluids. As a result, the virus is easily spread when people maintain close physical contact in crowded places, confined spaces, or enclosures with poor ventilation. These situations facilitate the quick transmission of the viral infection because they increase the proximity among people.
What things should I keep in mind before going for a COVID-19 test?
When going for a COVID-19 test, you should know that you will have to provide some biological samples for testing. Usually, you will give a small quantity of body fluids like blood, urine, saliva, semen, products from mucus membranes, etc. Your health care provider will inform you of the sample collection procedures. However, you should know that your healthcare providers maintain the utmost care and confidentiality when attempting to collect your sample for the COVID-19 tests. The idea is to make the sample collection process comfortable for you. You are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible before the sample collection for clarity.
Can I order my COVID-19 test by myself?
Depending on your situation, an authority must order all COVID-19 testing, either a healthcare professional or another regulatory body. As a result, individuals cannot request or order COVID-19 tests by themselves because of specific provincial regulatory requirements. Individuals who may want to have a particular test can suggest such to the healthcare provider in charge to request on their behalf.