Testing for COVID-19
People who have been medically assessed as meeting the criteria definitions as possible cases of COVID-19 are tested for the virus.
The purpose of testing is to identify the chain of the virus and break it through isolation so that its spread is limited within the community. It is important to understand the limitations of testing; it must be completed at the right time in order to accurately identify the virus and cannot confirm whether an individual may have had the virus in the past.
The public are reminded they should not attend the testing unit asking for a test unless they have been referred there via the COVID 111 helpline.
Testing is undertaken by the mobile coronavirus testing unit. The unit, set up to take samples from members of the public to test for coronavirus operates during a two hour window from 10am to midday seven days a week. The drive-through hub for community testing opened at the Grandstand on 20 March and is designed to streamline the task of sample-taking in one location.
Staff are now testing people referred to them on the day by clinicians at the COVID 111 helpline who have assessed their symptoms. The new hours will ensure that processing is undertaken in a manageable way, now that the team has caught up with a backlog.
A verified programme of antibody testing is being rolled out. Initially this will include the following groups: all hospital attendees through the emergency department; blood test referrals; close contacts and high risk contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases; blood donors; antenatal patients undergoing routine blood tests; health care workers; and a random sample of negatively tested 111 callers. It requires a formal blood test being undertaken. The test looks for the presence of certain antibodies which would identify whether a person has previously had COVID-19. While the presence of antibodies does not imply some future immunity to COVID-19, testing will help us understand how widespread the virus has been throughout our community over the last few months.
Confirmation and results
The Isle of Man opened its own local coronavirus testing facility on Monday 20 April 2020. It is expected that the unit will be able to process a maximum of 200 tests per day and that results will be returned by text message in 24 hours.
For those individuals awaiting results after being tested for COVID-19, it is important to emphasise that they could be suffering from flu or another ailment. The delay in results is not an indication of a potential positive result.
DO NOT stop self-isolating because you are feeling better.
If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive advice directly from Public Health which will include self-isolating to suppress the spread of the virus. Contact tracing will be conducted by Public Health following a number of strict protocols to assess risk of infection to others in the community. The individual will also receive a daily phone call from a member of Public Health to monitor their status and will be advised by Public Health when they can return to the community.
Even if an individual with symptoms of coronavirus receives a negative test result, they should still complete 14 days’ isolation.
The public is asked not to fixate on the number of cases published here each day but rather to expect peaks and troughs and to look at overall trend data on this graph which shows the general trajectory of travel.
When you have completed 14 days’ isolation from the initial onset of symptoms, you can return to normal activities/work as long as you keep within the limits of current government policy i.e. adhering to social distancing guidelines. You do not need to check with anyone or be checked by anyone.
Some people will still have a dry cough at that time but so long as you feel well and your temperature is back to normal, you are fine to end isolation. If you still have a temperature, you should remain at home and it should go down over a couple of days.
If your symptoms are getting worse or the temperature persists, you should contact your GP.