Frequently asked questions
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, and ”D” for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.”
There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of spreading any infection to the people you live with.
Try to stay away from people you live with
If you have symptoms, you should stay away from other people you live with as much as possible.
If you can:
- stay on your own in one room as much as possible and keep the door closed
- avoid using shared spaces (such as the kitchen) at the same time as other people – eat your meals in your room
- use a separate bathroom – otherwise, use the bathroom after everyone else and clean it each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you’ve touched
wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- clean objects and surfaces you touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
- consider wearing a face covering when in shared spaces
- keep windows open in the room you’re staying in and shared spaces as much as possible
- do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
If you are taking a PCR test, please do not eat, drink, chew gum, smoke or brush your teeth at least 30 minutes before your mouth swab sample is taken. Not following these steps can contaminate your sample which may result in it needing a retest and therefore, delay your result.
The turnaround time of results depends on the test you order, however, you will usually get your result back within 48 hrs of your swab or blood sample getting to our laboratory unless specified otherwise. In the unlikely event that your sample requires retesting, this may delay the delivery of your result. Fast services also available but prices will be high.
Tests booked through the Government website NHS are not for recreational travel purposes and do not supply you with a fit-to-fly certificate. Unnecessary strain is being put on the government system by those attempting to book tests for travel.
Our in-clinic tests are for travel purposes only. If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should book a test via the Government website or buy a test from our online shop.
PCR Testing is the most sensitive test that is currently available, able to detect active infection some days before the patient is infectious or symptomatic. It is the gold standard test; used in the NHS daily. PCR testing has a turnaround time of up to 48 hours. It is performed in machines than cycle through different temperatures. As the process of changing temperature takes some time, the process is longer than other processes such as LAMP.
LAMP Testing is another form of genetic test, able to detect the RNA of the virus. It is a more recent development than PCR and is performed all at one temperature. It is generally faster and cheaper than PCR but is not considered to be as sensitive – but is still more sensitive than antigen testing. LAMP tests might be able to detect patients immediately before symptoms are displayed but this is unsure at present. Rapid LAMP testing can add a significant degree of confidence if performed before flying, for example, when all aboard have had a LAMP test prior to departure.
Antigen Testing is the fastest and cheapest of all lab tests for COVID-19. Unlike PCR and LAMP, the genetic material of the virus is not searched for, but rather the protein structures on a virally infected cell produced by COVID-19; usually the so-called ‘spike’ protein. Antigen tests often become positive after having had symptoms for a couple of days. Their use is particularly powerful when patients are attending communal events and a quick check needs to be performed to see if attendees are infectious with COVID-19. Furthermore, during winter months, when people often have symptoms of the common cold or flu, performing an antigen test will ascertain whether the condition is the coronavirus or not.
Antibody tests: When we get infected with COVID-19, our bodies make antibodies to fight the infection. The antibody test looks for the presence of these antibodies, which usually mean that we have been infected with COVID-19 in the past. This test uses a finger-prick blood test.
Not sure which coronavirus test you need? We’ve summed up all of your options below so you can easily choose the best test for you.
Fit To Fly Certificate
Checks For Past Infection
Checks For Current Infection
‘Test to Release’ Qualified
The PCR test involves a swab of the nose and mouth to detect the presence of viral coronavirus RNA.
It is considered the gold standard of coronavirus testing, as they are 100% sensitive in detecting the virus in a sample—even after levels have dropped below infectious levels. This is why many countries and airlines require foreign travellers to take a PCR test.
Though a PCR swab test is 100% sensitive, this is reliant on the quality of the sample taken. So if you plan on taking one of our at-home PCR test kits, please follow the swabbing instructions provided. This way, our lab can test the most accurate sample that you can provide.
PCR test results are usually delivered the day after we receive your sample, unless your sample requires a retest.
Rapid 15 Minute Antigen Test
The Abbott Panbio Antigen Rapid Test involves a swab of the nose and detects infectious coronavirus protein fragments.
It is ideal for quickly determining if you are at risk of spreading the virus, as it is 98.2% sensitive in detecting viral levels that are currently considered to be infectious (Ct values < 33). This is why rapid antigen tests are commonly used in workplaces and film studios, as it can detect whether anyone can unknowingly spread COVID-19 to someone else.
Rapid antigen test results are usually delivered within 20 minutes.
IgG Antibody Test
The IgG Antibody Test involves a finger-prick blood sample and detects the presence of IgG antibodies—produced in response to being exposed to coronavirus.
It is the gold standard for antibody testing as it is 100% sensitive in detecting antibodies, 14 days after first symptoms. It has also has been PHE evaluated, FDA EUA approved and is also used by the NHS.
IgG antibody test results are usually delivered within 1-2 days after we receive your sample unless the sample requires a retest.
IgM Antibody Test
The IgM Antibody Test involves a venous blood sample and detects the presence of IgM antibodies generated in response to recent exposure to coronavirus.
This test is best taken 30 days after exposure, as IgM levels drop more quickly than IgG levels exposure. Meanwhile, the IgG test is best taken if you believe you had contracted coronavirus many months ago.
The IgM antibody test results are usually delivered within 1-2 days after we receive your sample unless your sample requires a retest.
There are different ways to get a COVID Pass.
Get a digital version
You can get a digital version using the NHS App or NHS website. You can download it as a PDF or get it sent to you in an email.
You can get a digital version by:
- downloading the NHS App – you must be registered with a GP surgery in England to use the app. The COVID Pass is not available to Isle of Man residents via the NHS App.
- using the online NHS COVID Pass service
You will need an NHS login to use these services. You’ll be asked to create one if you do not have an NHS login already.
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