10 Covid-19 testing myths – busted!
Published: 13 November 2020
We’ve pulled together some of the most common misconceptions about Covid-19 testing. Time to bust some myths!
1. Getting tested for Covid-19 is painful
Getting a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or ‘swab’ test for Covid-19 might not be the most comfortable experience, but it certainly shouldn’t be painful. The swabbing part of the test should take less than a minute to complete (less time than a blood test). When your throat is swabbed, you’ll likely feel some tickling and it might make you feel like coughing– that is completely normal and it’s ok! The swab could also feel very ticklish when your nose is swabbed, and you might feel like sneezing. Again, this is completely normal.
2. There aren’t enough tests for everyone
If you have symptoms, book a test. The number of tests available and laboratory capacity is constantly adapting to local need, and you should always be able to get a test quickly and close to home.
3. I might have to travel several hours to get to a test site
The media reported some time ago that citizens were having to travel to different areas of the country to get tested. The number of tests available and laboratory capacity is constantly adapting to local need, and you should always be able to get a test quickly and close to home.
There are three walk-in centres in Derby at Morleston Street Day Centre (just off Osmaston Road), West End Community Centre (just off Mackworth Road) and Austin and Sunnyhill Children’s Centre (on Browning Street).
If you have a car, you may be asked to travel to a drive through testing site. This is so our walk-in centres have availability for those who don’t have access to a car or can’t drive.
The average distance a Derby resident has to travel for a test is 2.8 miles (1.3 miles for walk through, 4.6 for drive through).
4. Testing is only for key-workers
Tests are available to anyone who is displaying one or more of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 (Fever, new continuous cough, change or loss of taste and smell). This includes children. If you have symptoms, getting tested and isolating is one of our best ways of preventing the virus from spreading further.
5. It’s a Friday evening, so I’ll just stay at home for the weekend to see if my symptoms go away/ I work from home and don’t go out much.
No! Go and get a test, however mild your symptoms are and even if you feel like they might be disappearing. Only having mild symptoms or symptoms that disappear quickly doesn’t mean that you can’t infect others that you come into contact with. Following social distancing guidelines, wearing a mask, testing and isolating are the best tools we have to manage this pandemic.
6. If I get tested and come back positive, I won’t be able to work and won’t get paid.
If you’re on a zero-hours contract, unable to work from home or your generally worried about your income due to self-isolating, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
7. You can only get tests during the week
Testing appointments are available at all our sites, seven days a week. Whatever day of the week it is, if you have symptoms, apply for a test.
8. The Government are using these tests to collect our DNA and keep it
When looking at information about Covid-19 and testing, make sure you’re checking the source of your information is reliable. Sadly, there are people out there that spread disinformation about the pandemic. If you spot something on social media that you don’t think is truthful, report it.
The PCR (swab) test looks to see if there is genetic material (RNA) from the Sars-2-CoV virus which causes Covid-19 and tells you if you are currently infected with the virus.
Some people have also been invited to take an antibody test. This test uses a blood sample to look for special cells from your immune system that would indicate you have had an immune response to the virus in the past.
You can find out more about the different tests on the Imperial College NHS website.
9. The tests aren’t accurate
No test for anything is ever going to be 100% accurate. The accuracy of PCR (swab) tests depends on lots of different things. The biggest factors are:
- When the test was taken. The virus is only present in the nose and throat in the early stages of infection which is why we need everyone to get tested as soon as they develop symptoms.
- How the test was performed. If swabbing isn’t done correctly, the virus could be missed. If you’re asked to administer the test yourself, it’s really important to fully follow the instructions provided.
10. I have to pay for a test
Anyone who has the main symptoms of Covid-19 can and should book a FREE test through NHS test and trace.
Anyone using the Covid-19 symptom tracker app may be asked to apply for a free NHS test based on symptoms they report through the app to help improve our understanding of the virus.