CORONAVIRUS testing efforts have redoubled on UK coronavirus sufferers, as the government orders thousands of new tests. Amongst the methods the government wants to use is a new antibody test, which identifies people who have already had COVID-19. How long does it take to get a coronavirus test back?
Coronavirus testing is now a vital part of daily life, and will one day determine when it is time for the government to lift the UK-wide lockdown. However, at the time being, officials are only testing certain groups of people, with millions of new tests on the way for everyone else.
How long does it take to get a coronavirus test back?
Testing is the vital first stage of a coronavirus response, as it allows health officials to isolate cases before they have the opportunity to spread. The government is conducting thousands of tests every day and has already carried out 25,000 in total. Currently, only people who have recently visited certain affected areas such as China or Italy need to submit themselves for testing.
The government advises people returning from an affected country to call 111, especially if they experience symptoms. From there, the receiver will likely direct them to their local health protection team. The team would then tell a potential COVID-19 sufferer to visit a testing site – usually an “isolation booth” at a local hospital.
Once a nurse in protective clothing has taken a cheek swab or other bodily fluid for testing, the sample is sent away to a laboratory. Test results could return within the same working day, but the government’s goal is to have them back in one to two days.
People are allegedly waiting double the expected amount of time, however. Concerns have arisen tests are taking at least four days to return. The NHS has said a new testing push should both increase the volume of tests and decrease the time it takes them to come back.
The health service recently announced it is scaling up its testing capacity to allow for 10,000 daily tests. The jump would mean a daily increase of 8,000 overall, and a reduction in the time it takes results to return. Officials expect the results should return within 24 hours, allowing people to plan their next treatment steps.
The government has stressed testing is only part of the overall solution, as people need to ensure they are preventing virus circulation themselves. NHS chief scientific officer Prof Dame Sue Hill said it was vital people follow the government’s hand washing rules. She added health services are planning “flexible” responses to potential demands.
Professor Hill said: “Every hospital across the country, and the healthcare professionals who run them, are now actively planning to respond flexibly to manage new demand.
“The public can help us to help the country to stay safe by practising good hygiene and washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds.”