Testing yourself at home for COVID-19 may seem slightly daunting, so here is an outline of how the process works and a step by step COVID-19 home test walkthrough.
The home test kit for COVID-19 is a straightforward process. It’s split into two different kits, one to tell if you have any antigens to show if you currently have the virus, and one antibody test to show if you have had it in the past few months.
The antigen test is free from the NHS. If you have any symptoms of the virus, the government warns that you should act quickly in ordering one of their swab tests so that you can confirm this, along with what actions you should take. You should order a kit on day 1-4 of your first symptoms or go to one of the testing sites if you can get there without using public transport.
If you or anyone in your household is showing symptoms, you must self-isolate at home until your results come back in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
The test itself is a swab test on the inside of your nose and the back of your throat. You can do this on your own, but parents or guardians must help children aged 11 or under. The kit includes a very detailed manual on how to conduct the test. It covers who should carry out the test, what surfaces need to be cleaned, and how to handle the test itself. It also has instructions on what to do with the test once you have completed it. You should read all of this information thoroughly to ensure it is the latest, up-to-date information.
The antibody test is a little different. It’s a blood test which detects if you have had coronavirus before and is not as widely available to the public yet. This is partly because some people who have had coronavirus before do not have any antibodies, making the results inaccurate.
Antibodies are created by the body when fighting off an infection. So, if you have the COVID-19 antibodies in your blood it’s very likely that you’ve had the virus before. It’s not yet known if people who have had the virus before are immune or if they are still likely to spread the infection. So, it’s important to continue social distancing in the same way as you would before, no matter what the outcome of your test is.
Currently, the antibody test is only offered to NHS and care staff, and it’s not freely available to the UK public. You can however pay for a private test if you wish to have one. The benefit of people around the UK having this test done is to help show the spread of COVID-19 and recognise any patterns which may be emerging.
If you have any questions about any symptoms you may be showing, or about your home test kit when it arrives, visit 111.nhs.uk. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the NHS by calling 111. Call 999 in an emergency if your condition begins to rapidly deteriorate.
The government has advised that you should act on your symptoms quickly to avoid the spread of the virus.
For more information, head to the NHS website.