Who will determine if I need to be tested? Where can I get tested? How does the corona test work? And how meaningful are the results? Under what conditions are testing at all?
For the official test for infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, two conditions must generally be met. On the one hand, there must be symptoms (from a mild cold to signs of pneumonia) that justify the suspicion of an infection. On the other hand, there must have been contact with a verifiably infected person within 14 days of the onset of symptoms.
Tests are also possible in people with previous illnesses (see also risk groups: Who is most at risk from COVID-19?) Or if respiratory problems (and/or fever) worsen. The decision about this is ultimately made by the attending physician.
It is also possible to test who comes into contact, professionally or on a voluntary basis, with people who are at high risk of a serious disease course with COVID-19.
Until recently, the combination of cold symptoms and staying in an official corona risk area was considered a sufficient requirement for the test. Since April 10th, however, the Robert Koch Institute has no longer identified any risk areas due to the worldwide spread of SARS-CoV-2. The RKI recommends that returnees to Germany go into voluntary quarantine for 14 days.
Where can I do a corona test?
Official corona tests are mainly done in hospitals or specially set up test centers. Sometimes doctors in private practice also offer the corona test. Health authorities also carry out the test on-site, especially for the elderly and/or people with restricted mobility.
If you suspect a corona infection, you should not go to the doctor, but first, inquire by phone. Nationwide, you can call the medical on-call service. The employees can best explain to you how the corona test organization is regulated in your place of residence.
What is done with the corona test to detect SARS-CoV-2?
In the corona test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, a swab is taken from the mouth, nose, and throat with a cotton swab. Occasionally sputum is saved as a sample.
These samples are then examined in a laboratory. In the meantime (April 10th) these samples can also be evaluated in many hospitals.
How are the coronaviruses detected in the smear?
The common corona test is a so-called PCR test. PCR stands for a polymerase chain reaction, i.e. polymerase chain reaction. PCR tests are considered to be the safest method for detecting viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Polymerases are very specific proteins that are involved in the construction of the genetic code, DNA. The test can detect even the tiniest amounts of the Coronavirus genetic material.
How safe is the result of the corona test procedure?
The test results are not entirely certain. There can be both false positives and false negatives. Therefore, a first positive test is checked by a second test.
False-negative results are usually checked if the symptoms or the circumstances of possible infection (return from severely affected countries, contact with sick people, or high-risk groups) give a cause.
Sometimes samples are taken incorrectly, damaged during transport, or incorrectly processed in the laboratory.
Are corona rapid tests from the Internet recommended?
The corona rapid tests, which are mainly offered on the Internet, are generally not a PCR test for the detection of viral genetic material, but rather tests that are intended to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood. Reliable antibody tests play a major role in the therapy of corona because they demonstrate immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
For private use, corona antibody rapid tests from the Internet are not a recommended alternative.
The rapid tests available to date are not fully developed and very likely often give false results – false positive as well as a false negative. Such test results are worthless and do not provide any security. In addition, one can assume that by no means all of the corona rapid tests offered on the Internet come from reputable providers.