When Should You Get A Covid Test?

Covid testing is readily available. If you have any reason to believe that you feel you need a covid test, you should get tested. If you believe you have been exposed, if you have active symptoms, or if you are out and in the community because of obligations, you should be getting tested to see if you have an active case of Covid. (Those who need to be out in the community and are unable to self-quarantine are recommended to get checked weekly).

Symptoms of Covid-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Facts About The Test

Although early asymptomatic transmission research has shown that some asymptomatic individuals can test positive two to three days before symptoms occur, you should not anticipate a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 within 24 hours of exposure to Covid-19. Rapid Covid Testing is becoming available to more people, and should be utilized if you are concerned about the state of your health. 

The basic diagnostic test is known as a “PCR test,” detects genetic material from the nose and upper throat from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that triggers COVID-19. Early research has shown that the risk of a false negative on the PCR test went from 100 percent on Day 1 to 67 percent on Day 4 during the initial four days of infection, prior to symptom onset. When symptoms began to appear, there was still a false negative rate of 38 percent on the first day people started showing symptoms, falling to 20 percent three days after the onset of symptoms. Of course, much depends on the sensitivity of the specific test being used. Tests vary from region to region. A test that has been shown to have a false negative rate of less than 5 percent five days after exposure, for instance, is used by MIT Medical. 

Symptoms of the virus start on average five to six days after exposure, but the duration of incubation can be as long as 14 days. That being said, some individuals never experience visible or debilitating symptoms, hence the recommendation for self-quarantine and self-monitoring after any possible exposure for a full two weeks.

When You Get Your Results

You need to self-quarantine for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Any other person who has been in immediate contact with you for up to 2 days prior to your positive test result will also need to be quarantined from the point of contact with you for at least 14 days. 

Additional Information

If you have tested positive before, and you have recurrent symptoms or some other reason to feel you need to re-test, there is no need to do so for at least three months after the time you tool a Covid screen. 

It is also important to test your children, especially if they have been in any close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Children with active Covid may not always have symptoms, such as a fever, respiratory issues, or other Covid-related symptoms. Regardless of this, the virus may still spread asymptomatically in children. Other common infections, such as flu or strep throat, should also be screened and ruled out by your child’s physician. It’s very important to be vigilant about testing for Covid in any household that might have a reason to consider that there has been exposure.

A blood sample can be taken to tell if you have developed antibodies to having been exposed to Covid sometime in the past. A blood test, however, should not be used to diagnose you with Covid.