The HSE have announced new criteria for those wishing to be tested for the coronavirus in order to monitor demand for tests.
Q: I thought they were going to test everybody with symptoms. Why have the rules been changed?
A: This is due to new guidelines from the World Health Organisation and also the capacity of individual countries to respond to demand.
Q: Will this reduce the waiting times?
A: It should shorten the length of time from contacting the GP to being referred for a swab. Once that is done, it can take another 24 hours before the swab is analysed by a laboratory.
Q: How many test centres are up and running now?
A: There are over 40 and more are planned.
Q: What symptoms do I have to exhibit in order to get a test?
A: The new criteria states that those wishing to be tested for Covid-19 must report a fever and at least one other respiratory disease symptom, such as a cough or shortness of breath.
Further priority will be given to those who have the “highest risk of exposure” and at-risk groups such as healthcare professionals and vulnerable people.
Q: What do I do if I have these symptoms?
A: If your fever is 38 degrees and above, or you have chills, and you have a cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, you should self-isolate and call your GP to be assessed for a test.
People in your household should also restrict their movements.
Q: What do I do if I exhibit just one symptom?
A: If you are exhibiting just one symptom and are not in a prioritised group, the HSE advises that you “stay at home and self-isolate” for at least 14 days from the start of your symptoms.
The last five days should be without a fever.
Q: I’m waiting to be tested but I don’t meet the new criteria – will I still be tested?
A: No. However, the HSE advises self-isolating for 14 days, with the last five days without fever. Anybody living in your household should also restrict their movements for the two-week period.
Q: I’m in a priority group and I’m awaiting a test – will I still receive one?
A: You should contact your GP to assess if you require a test and if you fall into the new case definition. The HSE coronavirus helpline is on 1850 24 1850.
Q: What if my GP ordered a test last week but I haven’t got an appointment yet?
A: You may not end up being sent to provide a swab. Check with your GP. If you do not fit the new criteria or fit into a priority group such as vulnerable people due to age or illness, or your job as a healthcare worker, then your original referral to a testing centre may not go ahead.
Q: What if I have received an appointment for a test but only ever had one symptom?
A: You should contact your GP. The important advice is to self-isolate and the same applies to other members of your household.
Q: How will I know if I’ve been taken off the waiting list for a test?
A: The detail of that is not yet clear. If you feel your condition has deteriorated, then contact your GP.
From The Irish Independent.