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.
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 will operate during a two hour window from Sunday 22 March.
The unit will be staffed from 10am – 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.
As of 3 April 2020, antigen testing is not currently deemed a reliable solution by Public Health in the UK or Isle of Man.
Confirmation and results
Once swabs are taken they have to be prepared for dispatch to the UK by air, where they are taken to a specialist laboratory for analysis. The process involves a number of protocols and so the operating hours of the mobile unit tie in with the admin side of the process later in the day.
Testing for COVID-19 is carried out by a UK specialist laboratory which is currently turning around our results within about 48 hours. A local laboratory facility to undertake testing and provide results on Island will be up and running by mid-April 2020.
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 surpress 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.
Work is underway to investigate the viability of publishing confirmed cases by postcode.