You're probably aware of the news story that's been making headlines over the past few weeks. There's a new virus sweeping across England and Wales, and it's called coronavirus or—confusingly—Coronavirus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now confirmed that around 80 people have died from it, but thankfully there are no reports of any cases in Northern Ireland.
You cannot do a PCR test at home. You have to go to a hospital or clinic and be checked by a doctor before you can take it.
This test is not available in all hospitals or clinics, so it's important that you contact your local laboratory to find out if they provide this type of testing as well as its availability at any given time.
The UK government has announced that everyone in England will be able to have a test for coronavirus from home or at a drive-through testing site. The test will also be available in Wales, but not Northern Ireland or Scotland.
You can use the links below to find out more about the availability of these services:
With PCR testing, technicians look for the virus in your body. This is considered to be the gold standard for diagnosing coronavirus. But if you're thinking that this means that if it's positive, then you definitely have coronavirus—think again!
PCR tests can be unreliable in two important ways: firstly because they're not 100% accurate; and secondly because they aren't sensitive enough to detect low viral loads. That's why even if your test comes back positive, it doesn't mean that there are no other reasons for your symptoms (like a cold or flu). You might want to consider repeating the test at least twice before jumping to any conclusions about what's going on with your health.
PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, and is a common diagnostic test used to detect the virus in the body. Because PCR tests are considered the gold standard for diagnosing coronavirus, they are also used as a measure of what you might be experiencing. If your test comes back positive (meaning you have tested positive for coronavirus), then it's likely that you can expect an even more specific diagnosis soon after.
If your PCR test does not come back with a positive result (you don't have coronavirus), then there's still hope that this means you're getting better! A negative result doesn't mean that everything is okay but it does show that things aren't as bad as they could be right now—and in some cases of milder illness, this may be all one needs to know before continuing life as usual
PCR tests are not 100% accurate, which means that you may have a false positive. This is where the test shows that you have an active Covid infection when in fact you do not. It can also give a false negative, which means the test claims to show no evidence of an active Covid infection but in reality it does exist.
The only way to accurately tell whether or not you have been infected by Covid is to wait for your antibodies (the immune cells that fight viruses) and symptoms to appear.
However, there are limitations to PCR tests that all come down to how much of the virus is in your body when you test.
If you have been infected but have not yet developed symptoms, the test will be negative. This is because at this stage it takes a certain number of viruses for them to be detectable by PCR. As soon as you start showing signs of infection (such as a headache or fever), your immune system sends out antibodies against Ebola and these can be detected by a lab using a simple antibody test.
However, if you recover from Ebola without developing antibodies against it—a rare outcome due to how quickly most people get sick after being exposed—your test would also come back negative even though some viral material may still remain in your body and could potentially cause another infection should an unprotected person come into contact with it again.
The good news is that there are now more tests available, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.