The virus that causes COVID-19 disease probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person through respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible to get infected by touching a surface or an object that has been contaminated with the virus from someone coughing or sneezing in the vicinity, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth, where the virus can infect you through the mucous membranes.
1Close contact is defined as a person having had face-to-face contact (≤1 meter) or who has been in a closed space with a confirmed case for at least 15 minutes. This includes amongst others:
Please Note: If you are showing any of the above symptoms you should consult with your doctor or clinic. If your doctor refers you for a COVID-19 PCR test, once you have had your sample taken, you should go straight home and self-quarantine until you receive your results.
Yes you should. Contact your doctor telephonically if you suddenly develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, or flu-like illness, especially after having contact with a person with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Your doctor will determine whether you should go into his consulting room or whether he will consult with you telephonically. If your doctor suspects that you have been exposed to COVID-19, the doctor may refer you for a COVID-19 PCR test directly, to prevent possible risk of exposure to the doctors consulting room staff and other patients should you be COVID-19 positive.
If your doctor refers you for COVID-19 PCR testing and once you have had your sample taken, you should go straight home and self-quarantine until you receive your result.
If you suddenly fall very ill with the above symptoms, you may need to immediately go to your local hospital's casualty department as you may be required to be admitted to hospital.
Some COVID-19 sample collection sites are “drive through” sites where you will be required to stay in your vehicle and the nursing staff will do the administration and collect your sample whilst you are in your vehicle. Whereas at other sites, you will be required to exit your vehicle to be attended to at the collection site structure (which may be in a temporary structure reserved specifically for this purpose).
The staff at these sites will be wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment) such as disposable hazmat suits, aprons, masks, and gloves. They will also wear either face visors or safety goggles. They will discard their gloves after each sample collection and put on new disposable gloves for each patient.
They will require you to sanitise your hands and wear your mask while they perform the administration tasks and take payment. They will ask you to remove your mask only when taking the sample, after which you will need to replace your mask and re-sanitise your hands before leaving the sample collection site.
COVID-19 PCR tests require either a nasopharyngeal swab, a nasal mid-turbinate swab, a nasal swab or an oropharyngeal swab.
The collection of the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal sample may be slightly uncomfortable, but the actual swabbing only takes a few seconds.
The PCR test result should be available within 48 hours depending on the patient priority (ill hospitalised patients and health care workers will be given priority), the travel distance between the sample collection site and the testing laboratory, and the volume of tests at the performing laboratory.
Yes, you can receive your own COVID-19 PCR test results and other laboratory results if you register for Patient Results on our Ampath website at https://www.ampath.co.za/my-lab-results
Yes - your doctor will receive an SMS as soon as your results have been released. Your doctor will then be able to guide you through what you need to do should you test COVID-19 positive.
A positive COVID-19 PCR result confirms that you are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and that you can spread it to others. Your doctor will contact you to discuss the implications of this finding and the next steps to take, whether this be to self-isolate at home and/or on your planned hospital admission.
As COVID-19 is a Category 1 Notifiable Medical Condition, all Doctors are legally required to notify the Department of Health of any positive patients in their care. Ampath will also send your results and the Contact Tracing form to the NICD and Department of Health. The Department of Health will contact you as they are responsible for ensuring isolation and contact tracing of all persons who test positive.
A negative COVID-19 PCR result means that you are very unlikely to have active COVID-19. However, it is possible that you are very early in your infection and are already infectious, as the test only becomes positive after a few days. It is also possible that you could have become infected with COVID-19 after the sample was taken. It is also possible for subjects with active COVID-19 infection (many of whom have no or only mild symptoms) to test negative during the course of their infection (as outlined below). Thus, even if you test negative, you should still take precautions to protect yourself and others.
No. Many individuals with active COVID-19 do not have symptoms at all and the potential for a positive result in someone that is not infected with COVID-19 (a false positive test result) is extremely unlikely. Moreover, a negative COVID-19 result in a second test would not invalidate the positive result of the first test. With respect to COVID-19 tests in general, a negative test result is far less reliable than a positive result (getting a false negative is far more likely than getting a false positive). This is because it is well established that patients infected with COVID-19 can intermittently test negative during the course of their illness. In addition to the ever-present potential for inadequate sampling, shedding of the virus can be intermittent and a specimen taken at the time when the virus is not actively being shed may give a false negative result.
Thus there is no point in having a second test to check: a negative result would not invalidate the positive result previously obtained. Hence, in the interests of your own health and the health of those with whom you may come into contact, a positive test result will be managed as such even if you have no symptoms.
Should you have any queries regarding your COVID-19 PCR test result, please contact your Doctor or consult the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Yes, your doctor can refer you to the laboratory to have a SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibody test.
Most persons who have been infected by the COVID-19 virus will produce antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, called SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibodies. These antibodies are produced by your body to help you fight the COVID-19 virus. Thus by testing for the COVID-19 antibodies, you can determine whether you have, at some stage, been infected by the COVID-19 virus, even though you may not have displayed any of the symptoms.
COVID-19 antibodies are usually detectable from 14 days after you have been infected by the COVID-19 virus.
The COVID-19 Antibodies are found in your blood and the test is performed on serum, thus you would need to have a blood sample taken.
Yes you do need to be referred for this test by your doctor.
Yes you can receive your own COVID-19 Antibody test result and other laboratory results if you register for Patient Results on our Ampath website https://www.ampath.co.za/my-lab-results
As SARS-CoV-2 is such a new virus, we cannot tell for sure how long antibodies will last or how well they can protect against future infection. We do believe that a person will have some level of immunity after infection, which is the scientific principle that the development of a vaccine is based on. However, all individuals should still adhere to recommendations by the Department of Health on social distancing, hygiene and personal protection, regardless of their antibody test result. You should not change your behaviour based on a positive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Antibody test result.