President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government will begin a mass screening campaign for South Africa to fight the spread of the coronavirus, but what goes into getting tested for the virus?
The test involves a qualified healthcare profession using a cotton swab to perform something called a “nasopharyngeal swab”, through your nasal passage, reaching all the way to the back of your throat.
This may sound like a painful procedure, but at worst it can be described as nothing more than uncomfortable. According to Mark Cameron, an immunologist from Case Western Reserve University “It is perfectly normal, maybe uncomfortable, but perfectly normal. It’s an uncomfortable test, but it’s the gold standard of testing.”
The reason as to why this area of the body is tested is because the virus infects the airways, and the back of the throat is an area of body that is subject to a lot of bodily secretions, which reflects the virus growing in the lungs.
Once the cotton swab is removed from the nasal passage, the healthcare professional will immediately place the swab into a sample collection tool to be sent off for analysis.
If for some reason a nasopharyngeal swab can’t be conducted, an oropharyngeal swab (mouth swab) can also be performed as a test for the coronavirus. This involves collecting samples from the back wall of the patient’s throat.
Take a look at this video demonstrating what exactly goes into getting tested for the COVID-19.