COVID PCR Test
According to a report by North Dakota Health (2020), Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a laboratory test method that looks at the presence of the genetic material of the virus in the throat, nose, and other respiratory organs/ area. This method is used to determine if there is an active infection with the SARS-CoV-2. The test is taken by swabbing the nose and/ or throat by a healthcare provider. The swab is then taken to the laboratory for testing. The report also says that the testing can be done through rapid testing whereby the individual avails themselves at the doctor’s office and the test is taken. The difference between these two methods is that in rapid testing, the results are available quickly compared to the former.
The results of a PCR test are either positive or negative. Guglielmi (2020) says that a positive test result implies that one has the virus that causes Covid-19. People with positive test results should be put in isolation for a minimum of 10days after symptoms begin to show and people with no symptoms such as fever are required to quarantine for approximately 10days after the day of their test. On the other hand, a negative PCR test means that one does not have the SAR-CoV-2 virus. This does not, however, mean that the individual is clear of the infection. For people previously exposed to the virus and in quarantine, negative results do not mean that they are clear of the infection. North Dakota Health, (2020) advise continued quarantine whereby the symptoms are monitored by the health care providers.
Having a PCR test is beneficial in different ways. To start with, the test is beneficial in showing if one has an active infection. Even though doctors say that this method is expensive (especially in private hospitals), it is effective in determining if one is infected and contagious to other people (PTI, 2020). May (2020) however argues that this method produces false negatives. At times, this molecular laboratory test has shows that one does not have the virus while in the real sense, they do. This is why, it is advisable for people in isolation to stay for further 14 days after a test, to determine the presence of the virus through the return of symptoms Guglielmi (2020). Second, this method is said to be minimally invasive. As earlier mentioned, PCR tests only use swabs in the nose, throat, and other respiratory areas, and/ or saliva and other body fluids. As such, it is easy to contact, for both healthcare practitioners and the individual. However, May (2020) says that the method is uncomfortable for some people. Deep nasal swaps cause discomfort to some people, especially children.
This method is partially not helpful in some cases. As explained by the report by North Dakota Health (2020), this method is only useful in determining the presence of the virus in the event of testing. it does not, therefore, determine if the person had the virus before the testing. also, it does not predict the occurrence of active infection in people who have been infected in two weeks after exposure. Besides, the report says that the test may fail to detect the presence of the virus in the respiratory tract days after exposure. This is because, in some people, the virus is only present for a few days, at the beginning of the infection.