Can I get tested for COVID-19?
Anyone who has any covid-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested immediately. Symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fatigue and loss of smell or taste. It doesn’t matter if you have just one of these symptoms or a group of them, or whether you feel really sick or just a little unwell,
What’s it like to have a COVID-19 test done?
The standard COVID-19 test involves collecting nasal (inside your nose) and throat swabs, and/or sputum (mucus coughed up). This means the doctor or nurse doing your test will place a swab on a thin stick in the back of your throat and 2-3cm up into your nose. Or if you’re coughing up mucus, they’ll get you to cough into a collection container. These samples are then sent to a laboratory for testing.
Does the COVID-19 test hurt?
The COVID-19 test shouldn’t be painful, but it can be uncomfortable – there’s a reason you don’t normally put things up your nose! It’s very quick though, so even if it feels a bit weird, it will only last a couple of seconds. If you find that the testing is really hurting you, you should tell the doctor or nurse performing the test straight away. It can also help to tell them if you’re feeling a bit nervous beforehand, so they can help you feel more at ease.
My child has to get tested for COVID-19 – how do I prepare them for that?
COVID-19 tests are done in the same way for children as they are for adults.Having your child tested for COVID-19 doesn’t need to be traumatic. You can help them feel calm by explaining to them what’s going to happen and why. Let them know that the staff will be wearing gowns, gloves and masks to keep everyone healthy. Tell them that they’ll put a little stick with a soft end in their nose and mouth, and that it won’t hurt but might feel funny. If they’re into that kind of thing, they might be fascinated to know that the doctor or nurse is testing their boogers!
Just like when they get needles or scrape their knee, a big part of how a child feels and behaves when they’re getting a COVID-19 test comes down to how the adult they’re with is feeling and behaving. If you’re really nervous about their test (or your own!) they’ll probably pick up on that. It might help to take some deep breaths together before you go in and to schedule a fun ‘reward’ after the test like a special dinner or movie at home (your child will need to isolate until their symptoms have resolved).
If your child has sensitivities around being touched or often gets scared or aggravated in a medical setting, let the staff know before you bring them in so they can be well prepared to work with your child in a way that keeps them calm and happy.
If I have a test, do I have to self-isolate?
You will have to self-isolate after being tested. The nurse or doctor you have seen may decide you need to be isolated more formally in hospital if you are very unwell. This decision will depend on your condition and risk of your infecting others. You should ask the clinician about isolation when you are sent for your test.
What happens if my test result is positive?
If the result is positive, you will receive a call from a public health unit which will tell you what to do next. If you are well enough to take care of yourself, you will need to stay at home in self-isolation until you recover. If you get sicker, you may be admitted to hospital in an isolation area.
What happens if my test result is negative?
If the result is negative, your doctor or the clinic that tested you will let you know. If you have been told by the doctor or clinic to isolate until the result is available, they can provide further advice about what to do next. Otherwise you should stay home until your symptoms have resolved.
What if my test result is negative but I have been given a quarantine notice?
If you have been issued with a notice telling you to quarantine because you’ve been in contact with someone who does have COVID-19 or you’ve returned from overseas travel or from a COVID-19 hotspot in Australia, you must stay in quarantine until the end date written on the notice, even if you get a negative result. This is because you may still develop COVID-19 infection up until the end of the quarantine period.
I’ve had my COVID-19 test but don’t have a result yet – what should I do?
Be prepared to self-isolate if tested until you get your results. Test results occasionally take several days to come back.
What does self-isolation mean?
The purpose of self-isolation is to prevent you from spreading whatever is causing your symptoms to others around you.In self-isolation, you can’t leave your home, residence, hotel, or accommodation except to seek or receive medical care until you receive your result. You should not have visitors during this time, and you should stay away from others in your household as much as you can, not share rooms or household items, and practise good hygiene.
I don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, can I be tested?
At this stage, you can only be tested when you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue or loss of taste or smell, or if specifically directed by public health officials.
My test was negative but I’m still feeling sick – should I get tested again?
If you’re still feeling unwell and it seems unusual or you need medical help to treat your symptoms, you should talk to a GP or call Health line to get medical advice about your condition.
I’m getting a COVID-19 test – do I need to tell my workplace? My child is getting tested, should I tell their school?
After having a COVID-19 test, you will need to self-isolate until you get your results. The same rule applies to children, too. This might mean you miss work or school, and it would be appropriate to tell your workplace or your child’s school that you’re absent because you have to self-isolate after a COVID-19 test.If your test result is negative, you are not under a quarantine order and you/your child is well, you can return to work or your child can return to school. If you are still feeling sick, you should stay at home even if you have a negative test, so you don’t spread the germs that you do have.
If your test result is positive, you will be advised to either self-isolate at home while you recover or be taken to hospital for treatment if necessary. As part of contact tracing, public health officials will contact people that you have been in close contact with, which will include people at your workplace, or for your child, people at their school.
People around you, for example those you live with and people you have been in contact with, do not need to self-quarantine while you are waiting for your test results.
How accurate are the tests?
It’s very uncommon for these tests to return an incorrect result, but it’s important to remember that issues can occur in all types of testing. To account for this, if there are doubts about the accuracy of a particular test result, your doctor may ask you to be re-tested.