CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is a lot of confusion surrounding if and when you should test for COVID-19.
What test should you use? If you were exposed but don't have any symptoms, should you test?
As many people search for at-home rapid tests on bare shelves and stand in long lines to get a PCR test, many want to know do they even need a test if they don't have any symptoms but were exposed?
Should you only test for COVID-19 if you are symptomatic?
No, you should not test for COVID-19 only if you are symptomatic. Doctors suggest if you have come in contact with someone, get a PCR test if you can because that is more sensitive than a rapid test.
WHAT WE FOUND:
DHEC, advises people who have had close contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19 to test at least five days after the contact whether or not they have symptoms. Some doctors suggest getting it done sooner.
"If I have been exposed to someone, you want to use a PCR test which is very sensitive," Dr. Kohli said.
The key is which test you are using. Dr. Kohli tells us a PCR test is the most accurate when it comes to people who do not have symptoms. Those are analyzed in a lab. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the test is so sensitive it can detect small amounts of virus material.
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"If you have had exposure to somebody who is known to have Covid-19, you want to give an incubation period of at least 2-3 days before you do a PCR, not a rapid test," Kohli said.
An antigen test, also known as a rapid test, is what you would see in stores. They detect protein fragments specific to Covid-19. While these tests are less sensitive, Dr. Kohli tells us scientists believe the Omicron Variant shows up in your system fast than other COVID-19 strains.
"This is a little different than we have seen with delta, we were waiting 3-5 days before we test, but the incubation period with the omicron variant appears to be shorter, so we want to test around day two or day three," Kohli said.
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