Covid 19 Testing FAQs

Medical Minutes: Answers to frequently asked questions

Covid 19 Testing FAQs

Siri Akal


QUESTION 1) I recently traveled and want to get tested. What should I do?

• If sick get PCR nasal or throat swab immediately

• If asymptomatic get PCR nasal or throat swab 5-7 days after travel

• If sick for over a week get PCR nasal swab and Ig M and Ig G blood test

• If sick for over 2 weeks get IgM and Ig G antibody

QUESTION 2) I am traveling to a foreign country by air or sea. What test do I need?

• Each country has its own testing requirements so suggest you look at

• Many of the foreign countries have strict time restrictions for when tests are valid, some are 48 hours prior to travel others are 1 week

QUESTION 3) I think I may have had Covid but want to check if I did. What do I do?

• Get a blood Ig G test which will let you know if you were exposed and have immunity to Covid (unclear if this is life long or short term immunity)

• There is a rapid blood test (same day result) or a test that can be set to a lab (one week)

QUESTION 4) I have people in my family who are at high risk for Covid. What should I do?

• Continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash hands regularly

• Get tested with IgM and Ig G to see if they or you have been exposed

QUESTION 5) If my child is returning to school / college, what test should I do?

• There are no federal guidelines yet, each school college will decide what testing they will require.

• Most likely a PCR nasal or throat swab to detect infection, or antibody blood testing for Ig M and Ig G.

• The antibody can be done as part of your school physical and covered by most insurances.

Key terms:

PCR – polymerase chain reaction - detects actual virus particles (nasal or throat swab)

Ig M and G – immunoglobulins that detect antibodies to the virus (rapid blood test)

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