The Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test detects the presence of COVID-19 viral RNA and is most appropriate during the earliest stages after exposure to the virus, and should be undertaken when someone suspects they have COVID-19 within 1-5 days of developing symptoms. This is a single swab for the throat and nose.
The test are performed at an accredited NHS central London laboratory which complies with the UKAS Medical standard 15189:2012
Why provide testing at work?
Individuals who experience symptoms at work, must declare symptoms and isolate for 10 days, if a family member becomes unwell then isolation will be required for 14 days. These are government guidelines that have been implemented to reduce the spread of the virus.
The majority of people with COVID-19 have uncomplicated or mild illness (81%), with non-specific symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough (with or without sputum production), anorexia, malaise, muscle pain, sore throat, dyspnea, nasal congestion, or headache, patients may also present with diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Loss of taste and smell has been reported early in the infection.
Having test facilities in the work place ensures rapid testing helping in maintaining a healthy work force.As workplaces gradually get back to work there is likely to be an increase in infections with the potential of further disruption to your organisation. Rapid testing in the work place ensures that those with a confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 are absent and in isolation protecting others, those who are testing negative are able to return to the work place prior to the 10 days isolation, meaning less impact on the organisation The relaxation of quarantine measures may result in clusters and spikes of infection. This will present a challenge in being able to distinguish common cold and flu symptoms from those of COVID-19, therefore increasing the requirement for isolation for each incidence.
Limitations and clinical interpretation
Staff with very low viral loads are less likely to be detected. 'Not detected' results do not preclude infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and should not be the sole basis of a patient treatment/management or public health decision. Where there is a strong clinical suspicion of an early COVID-19 infection it is advised that repeat sampling should be considered 24-48 hours later. Each case will be assessed and advice provided.