A coronavirus is an undetectable disease so you can test yourself to ensure that you are free from coronavirus by doing some kinds of tests.
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Types of tests
A COVID-19 test is available that can test current or previous infections.
A viral test tells you that you have a current disease. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.
An antibody test (also known as a serology test) may tell you that you have had a previous infection. Antibody testing should not be used to diagnose current infections.
Most tests, including a home remedy and home exam, require a doctor’s note or order from a healthcare provider.
Medical Certificate Examination – Healthcare providers can determine if you need a test, and make sure you get the most appropriate test and that you know what the results mean. For example, certain tests are only approved for people who are suspected of having COVID-19 or for people with symptoms of COVID-19 that started within a certain number of days. A health care provider can help determine which tests are best for your condition. Only a home collection of prescriptions and home tests may require you to answer certain questions online so that your healthcare provider can decide whether to prescribe or order certain tests.
Non-Medical Examination – Other tests are available without a prescription. Home collection and home tests obtained without a prescription may be termed “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) or “over-the-counter” (OTC). DTC and OTC tests may be available for purchase at the pharmacy or online, but may not be available everywhere.
Swab samples use a swab (similar to a long Q-Tip) to collect a sample from the nose or throat. Types of samples include:
Anterior Nares (Nose) – takes a sample just inside the nose
Mid-turbinate – takes a sample from the top to the inside of the nose
Nasopharyngeal – takes a sample from the depths of the nose, reaching the back of the throat
Oropharyngeal – take a sample in the middle part of the pharynx just beyond the mouth
Saliva samples are collected by spitting in a tube instead of using a nose or throat swab.
Blood samples are only used to test the immune system and not to diagnose COVID-19. Venous blood samples are usually collected at a doctor’s office or clinic. Other immune tests use blood from a fingernail.
Integrated Sample Test
One way for laboratories to test more people with COVID-19 is to combine samples from a few people into one sample and test them together, also called “combining.” Blending is especially helpful in areas where multiple samples are expected to be negative. This saves time and testing materials where a very small number of positive ones are expected, allowing labs to test additional samples.
If the test does not have or does not detect, SARS-CoV-2, none of the people whose samples were included in the combined sample may have an active COVID-19 infection.
f the test contains something, which indicates the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, everyone is re-tested separately, either by taking a new sample or by testing the remaining part of the original sample, to determine which samples contain it.
A tool to help you make decisions about when to seek medical attention.
Who should be tested for current infection People with symptoms of COVID-19.
People close to a person with COVID-19 should be tested for infection:
People who are fully vaccinated should be tested within 5-7 days after their last exposure.
People who are not fully vaccinated should be tested as soon as they find out they are close to them. If the test result is negative, they should be re-tested 5-7 days after their last exposure or as soon as symptoms appear.
Uninvolved people who participate in activities that put them at high risk of COVID-19 because they cannot walk the required distance to avoid exposure, such as walking, attending large social or social gatherings, or being in crowded or unsafe places.
Persons who have been asked or referred to be examined by their health care provider, or a region, a nation, a foreign icon, or a local health department.
The CDC recommends that anyone with any symptoms or signs of COVID-19 be tested, regardless of the nature of the vaccine or previous infection. If you are being tested for symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others while you wait for the test results and follow the advice of your healthcare provider or community health professional.
Once you are fully vaccinated and travel internationally. International travelers need to consider the situation in their international destinations before traveling due to the proliferation of new species and because the burden of COVID-19 varies around the world.
Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to be tested before leaving the United States unless a destination is required.
Fully vaccinated pilots coming to the United States from abroad, including US citizens, still need to have a negative SARS-CoV-2 viral test result or COVID-19 recovery documents before boarding a flight to the United States.
International travelers to the United States are still recommended to receive a SARS-CoV-2 virus test within 3-5 days after the trip without checking for immunization status.
Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to confine themselves to the United States following international travel.
How to test for current COVID-19 infections
Contact your healthcare provider or visit your regional, national, external icon, and local health department website for the latest local information about testing. The type of COVID-19 virus test offered may vary by location.
You and your healthcare provider may also consider a home collection kit or home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and if you are unable to get tested by a health care provider or community health officer.
How to use viral test results
find out what steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19
If you find that you have it, know what precautions you can take to protect others from getting sick.
If you find that you do not have it, you probably did not become infected when your sample was collected. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of the test. Continue to take precautionary measures.