When to get a COVID test and what to do if you test positive

A medical worker wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) takes a swab sample from a woman during a mass testing event at a sport complex in Bangkok on April 17, 2021. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

With the number of COVID-19 cases in Thailand rising on a daily basis, many people are worrying about whether they have contracted the contagious virus. In fact, even simple cold symptoms can be scary.

While health authorities are encouraging people at risk of catching COVID-19 to get tested, they are also trying to allay fears by providing more information on exactly who is at risk.

High risk vs low risk

Disease Control Department director-general Dr Opart Karnkawinpong recently said that anybody who has been within close proximity of a confirmed COVID patient should get tested immediately.

People at highest risk are those who live in the same house as the patient and were in close contact when the patient was developing symptoms; medical workers who handle a patient or their specimen while not wearing protective gear; and patients sharing a room with someone who has tested positive.

Also at high risk are people who have met symptomatic COVID-19 patients and may have been exposed to their body fluids, including via coughing or sneezing.

Standing a meter from a confirmed COVID patient without a mask for more than five minutes or sitting a couple of rows from the patient on an aircraft or bus also carries high risk.

“Being in a badly ventilated room with a patient without a mask for 15 minutes is risky,” Opart explained.

Working or studying in the same room as a confirmed patient is less risky provided everybody wears a mask and is not exposed to bodily fluids.

Do’s and Don’ts in field hospitals

They are: -Bring your own personal items, such as cutlery, toiletries, clothes, towels and medication -Cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sharp items and gambling equipment are not allowed, and do not bring expensive items that are likely to be stolen -No food or drinks from outside are allowed, as the field hospital

What should those at risk do?

People at high risk are advised to immediately seek a lab test and then quarantine themselves at a medical facility or at their own home. However, they cannot walk free even if the first lab test does not detect the presence of the virus. A negative result on the first day only means that the people they came in contact with before the test are safe. They should keep a mask on at all times and isolate themselves for 14 days. During isolation, they may be required to undergo tests a few more times.

Khanngoen Nuanual, a lead singer of Thaitanium band, for instance, was considered to be at high risk because he performed at The Emerald Thonglor 13 on April 2 where infected patients had been present. Seven days later his test came back negative, yet 15 days later he tested positive.

State hospitals are providing free COVID-19 tests for people who are at risk, though private hospitals are charging a fee. However, the National Health Security Office has started covering the cost of COVID tests at private medical facilities for high-risk cases.

People at low risk are still recommended to isolate themselves for 14 days, during which time they can run their daily errands, provided they stay away from crowded places.

Tested positive?

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should contact health authorities via hotlines 1330, 1668 or 1669 and have their national ID and test results ready. They must wear a face mask, isolate themselves and avoid leaving home while waiting to be admitted to hospital.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk

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