Corona complaints? You should know this about taking a test


1. When can you be tested for corona?

Since 1 June, anyone with health problems associated with the corona virus can have themselves tested in more than eighty ‘drive through’ test streets in the Netherlands. Symptoms that may indicate Covid-19 are cold, cough, increase or sudden loss of taste or smell.

In principle, testing does not take place in the Netherlands if you have no complaints. There is a reason for this, because the tests that we can all have done are the most reliable if you have complaints, says the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). You have to make an appointment for a corona test by calling 0800-1202.

2. You have complaints, does it matter when you get tested for corona?

If you get tested too early, there is a good chance that the test result will be incorrectly negative. In other words: that, based on the test result, you think that you do not have corona, even though you do.

You have the best chance of a correct result on the third day on which you have complaints. But the test is also very reliable on other days when you have symptoms. From the fourth day that you have symptoms, the chance of a correct test decreases again, because your body is often effectively breaking down the virus.

That is why the advice is always: if there is a strong suspicion that you are infected with the corona virus and the test is negative, have it tested again a few days later (in consultation with your doctor or someone from the GGD).

3. What exactly is being tested?

The test used by the GGD is a so-called molecular test, a PCR. In such a test, throat and nasal mucus is taken with a cotton swab. This mucus is sent to a laboratory where it is examined whether the coronavirus is present in the mucus. If the coronavirus is in the mucus, you are infected with corona.

The test can only show whether you have corona at the time the test is taken. It cannot show whether you have had corona before.

4. How long does it take for the result to appear and how do you get the result?

If you have been tested for the corona virus, you will receive a message from the GGD as soon as possible. Usually this does not take longer than 48 hours. The GGD will contact you by telephone, calling yourself is pointless.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently announced that there will soon be a website where people can now register online for a corona test at a GGD in their area. The results of the test must also be available online.

5. How does source and contact research work?

If you are infected with the corona virus, the GGD will carry out a source and contact investigation within 24 hours. This is done in accordance with the national guidelines of the RIVM.

An employee of the infectious disease control team is investigating how you contracted the corona virus. It is also checked whether others could possibly have become infected in the same way.

During the contact investigation, it is identified with which people the infected person has had contact. This concerns not only the moment at which he or she had complaints, but also the two days prior to the complaints.

The contacts are divided into three categories: housemates, close contacts and other contacts. Housemates must stay at home for two weeks, close contacts are also recommended. The other contacts are informed and are advised to keep a close eye on their health and to stay at home in case of complaints.

6. Why can’t I be tested at home?

According to the RIVM, there are not enough resources and people to have everyone with complaints tested at home. Therefore it is advisable to come to the test street by car if possible.

7. I want to be tested, but I don’t have a car. What should I do?

For people who want to be tested for corona but who do not have or cannot borrow a car, it is sometimes quite difficult to reach a test street. You are not allowed to come by public transport because of the health problems. Walking or cycling is allowed at most test locations, but this must be arranged in advance by telephone.

8. Why are there not more test locations, for example at busy locations?

“There are few test streets at busy locations because we had to set them up in a very short time,” Kristof Frans of GGD Nederland said earlier.

“We had to determine locations on the basis of a number of points. It had to include entry and exit options for the car. Privacy had to be guaranteed and it had to be large enough.”

The GGD is planning to expand the number of test locations. The term varies per location. A new test street was recently opened in The Hague, among others. People who are not able to drive to the test location in Nootdorp can now have themselves tested in the center of the city.

9. Can it also be tested whether I have had corona?

Whether you’ve already had the coronavirus can be tested through a blood test. A blood sample is then taken to look for antibodies against Covid-19. If antibodies are found in your blood, it means that you have been proven to have been in contact with the corona virus.

According to the RIVM, blood tests are currently only taken for research purposes by selected laboratories. The RIVM advises people not to have their own blood tested for the presence of antibodies. “This can give a false sense of security,” the institute writes on its website.

Although the RIVM says that blood tests are only taken for certain studies, a tour of RTL News showed that it is possible to be tested for antibodies by some GPs in a lab. The group of patients who are referred is limited.

This concerns, for example, people who have had mild complaints for a long time. Because their complaints were not bad enough, they were not hospitalized and therefore not tested. A blood test can then provide a definitive answer to general practitioners. They will then know whether to look further for another diagnosis.

10. I am going on vacation abroad. Can I get tested there?

When you are on holiday abroad and you get corona-related complaints, the RIVM recommends that you report to the local medical assistance. “Follow the advice of the local health service and get tested if possible,” the institute writes on its website. Whether the latter is actually possible differs per country.

If you are tested positive for the corona virus abroad, you are not allowed to return to the Netherlands. You must then remain in isolation until you are free of complaints for at least 24 hours. Only then can you start the return journey.


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