As Covid-19 cases continue rising, Malaysians have been encouraged to only go out where needed. However, there inevitably comes times where we have to leave our homes for essential errands, from getting our groceries to collecting food and more.
With new variants and higher infection rates, there’s still a large risk of being exposed to the virus – even on rare outings. On top of wearing a 3-ply or 4-ply disposable surgical mask and washing or sanitizing their hands, many have also elected to purchase self-test kits should they start displaying symptoms.
As there are multiple steps involved in getting tested for Covid-19, here are some commonly asked questions about this process:
When Should I Test Myself?
You should get tested immediately if you were in close contact with Covid-19 positive patients – whether this is tracked through your MySejahtera app, or if someone close to you informs you of their prognosis.
If you’re displaying symptoms of the coronavirus, you must get tested for your safety and those around you. Similarly, you should get tested if your travel history shows you were within proximity with a positive Covid-19 case, typically in enclosed spaces such as stores and more.
Should you come into casual contact with an infected person based on your MySejahtera app or other sources, this means you have been within the vicinity of someone who has recently tested positive for the virus.
Though the danger is not imminent, you should still quarantine yourself for at least ten days to fully ensure that you have not contracted, and are in danger of transmitting the virus.
What Kind of Covid-19 Tests Are There?
There are two main Covid-19 tests: the antigen test – also known as the rapid or RTK test – and the PCR test.
The antigen test detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus, and can be done in a clinic or hospital. These results can be reported within 15 minutes, giving rise to its name as the rapid test. However, the results are not always accurate, and this test tends to have a false negative rate of up to 50%.
As such, the PCR test is highly recommended, as it detects RNA (the genetic material) belonging to Covid-19 and can report accurate results even for asymptomatic cases. Due to its specificity, its turnaround time varies from two to three days instead.
Many medical facilities across the nation offer Covid-19 screening – both in-clinic and via Drive-Thru testing – and can be found on the Ministry of Health’s official website or under the updated MySejahtera’s Health Facilities icon. Another recent addition is the ability to purchase Covid-19 self test kits via MySejahtera.
Interpretation of results vary depending on the kit. Generally, if two lines appear on your self test kit, this means you’re Covid-19 positive. However, those who test negative within their at-home kit should still closely monitor their symptoms, or confirm their results through a PCR test.
What Is the Covid-19 Testing Procedure Like?
All tests require a nasal or throat swab sample. If done by medical professionals, this would involve a cotton-tipped swab being inserted into the cavity between your nose and mouth for around 15 seconds per nostril and rotated a few times.
This material is then sent to the lab for testing, and you will be informed of your results within the next one to two days. Though this depends on your pain threshold, generally the procedure has been described as not particularly painful, merely uncomfortable.
At home, you will be required to collect your saliva for self testing and read the results according to instructions provided on the kit packaging.
What If I Test Positive?
Firstly and most importantly: do not panic, as there are guidelines in place to help.
Those who have severe symptoms such as difficulties breathing or shortness of breath should get immediate assistance and be transported to the nearest hospital.
High-risk patients such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions should make their way to the nearest Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) for further action.
If your symptoms are mild, or you are asymptomatic, confine yourself to one allotted space. Be sure you and those around you put on your masks and gloves if you need to use common areas, and continue monitoring your health closely. A digital Home Surveillance Order (HSO) will be issued through your MySejahtera app, and you will be required to carry out daily self-checks using the Home Assessment Tool (HAT) through the app. Failing which, the Health Ministry will get in contact with you.
After 10 continuous days with no symptoms, remember to properly sanitise your living space and home to ensure the safety of both yourself and your loved ones.
How Do I Prevent the Spread of Covid-19?
Whether you’ve been affected personally by the coronavirus or not, we can continue the good work of staying extra safe through this trying time. Be sure to always wear the proper, protective masks when others are present, and to sanitise your hands and surroundings frequently.
As such, it’s vital to ensure you have a ready supply of personal protective equipment. NOVID’s range of disposable surgical masks and sanitisers, whether on the go or to wipe down objects, can help in doing so.
Through this, we can prevent the further spread of Covid-19, and prioritise the safety of ourselves and our loved ones.