As we are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the biggest challenge facing the UK and the world at this current moment. As we move through the pandemic, government guidance has to change regarding what we can and can’t do, all in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.
In fact, two of the biggest themes throughout the COVID-19, has been government guidance and testing for the virus. We thought it might be useful to explain the latest government COVID-19 guidelines a little further and look at the different types of testing that are available to key workers and the general public.
New government guidance on COVID-19
After moving past ‘the peak’ of the virus, the government has brought in a new alert system to keep track of the virus and inform decisions on reducing such as the lockdown and social distancing.
The guidance is constantly changing, but the key principles, no matter where you live in the UK involve:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out
- Wash your hands regularly
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you must self-isolate. The key COVID-19 symptoms remain the same, a new continuous cough, a high temperature and/or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell.
The guidance on self-isolating remains as follows:
- Self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started
- Everyone in your household will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started
- If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term health condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from each other. If possible, try not to share a bed.
- Do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
- Do not have any visitors, including friends and family, in your home
You can use your garden, if you have one. Any exercise should be taken at home
Increased COVID-19 testing
The government’s new guidelines also talk about increasing testing for COVID-19, something that they have been continuing to work on throughout the course of the pandemic.
Testing is so important for COVID-19 because the symptoms are very similar to other conditions and diseases, e.g. a cold, flu or hayfever. It is therefore hard to tell, without testing, if they have the virus or not. Testing is also important as it can help inform the government in their decision making, when it comes to relaxing restrictions, whether that be nationally, regionally or locally.
But what are the different types of COVID-19 tests we keep hearing about on the news and online?
Different types of testing
COVID-19 swab test
The COVID-19 swab tests are the tests used by the NHS to determine if a person currently has COVID-19. The swab test is run around the inside of a person’s mouth and throat, collecting a sample of cells which can then be tested in a laboratory for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
If you think you might have COVID-19, find out more about COVID-19 swab tests and how to request one for yourself.
COVID-19 antibody blood test
The COVID-19 antibody blood test is an EU approved test used to determine if you have previously had COVID-19. A sample of a person’s blood is sent to a laboratory where it is tested for the presence of antibodies against COVID-19.
The presence of antibodies would confirm that a person has been exposed to COVID-19. These antibodies are present in the late stages of infection and may remain for up to months and possibly years after recovery, meaning that you have had COVID-19. A positive result on an antibody test does not confirm immunity.
‘Instant’ at home test
You may have seen in the press lots of talk of ‘instant’ at home testing kits for COVID-19. These tests have yet to be approved for medical use in the UK, and at this time should not be purchased, as they are likely to be unreliable.
Who is testing available to
Both the swab and antibody blood tests can be purchased by the general public via our LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor COVID-19 test kit clinic. You must be 18 or over, and are limited to 1 test kit per person.
The COVID-19 swab tests are available free of charge to all key workers. You have to apply for a test via the Government’s testing portal.
Updated 5th Jan 2021 – please visit NHS pages about coronavirus for the most up to date guidance.