COVID-19 Testing Amidst the Omicron Variant: Everything You Need to Know

Although it has been two years since the pandemic infected millions, COVID-19 continues its destructive work as another Omicron variant continues to spread and mutate. According to the Office of the National Statistics in England, 1 in 15 people were affected by COVID-19,while London’s figure is one out 10, making this variant Britain’s national concern.

Despite many countries easing restrictions and health protocols, Omicron continues to rise at alarming rates. Because of this pressing scenario, COVID-19 testing is still considered essential in aiding health workers in preventing and minimising the spread of the disease. 

 Modifications to the testing rules

The UK used to have a 10-day isolation time reduced to 7 days. This is only true if LFTs, or lateral flow tests (also known as rapid tests), return a negative result within their 6th or 7th day of isolation. The taking of swab samples for the LFTs should be taken 24 hours apart,with the first testadministered no earlier than day 6. People under this 7-day isolation period are still advised to be cautious and avoid people that may be vulnerable to the disease.

However, a positive LFT result does not mean that a test must be repeated for confirmation. According to the UK government, the confirmatory PCR test was cancelled on the 5th of January 2022due to the extraordinary rise in infection rates during the Holiday Season.The government tells its citizens that immediate isolation must bedone if positive LFT test results.

Compared to other COVID-19 variants, Omicron ismilder and seems like simple flu. Its only difference is its high transmission rate.

Are LFTs reliable?

Due to the Omicron variant’s high transmissibility, many countries rely heavily on rapid antigen tests to issue a fit to travel certificate for tourists. This fit to fly testsallows people suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 virus to be identified and isolated quickly. However, these LFTs are also known for being less sensitive in detection and can produce false positives. The attending physician must determine if the patient needs to undergo a confirmatory PCR test when concerns occur.

Protect yourself and others

As part of the battle to end the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals urge people to get vaccinated. In known history, many lives have been saved by administering vaccines to patients, which is valid with the COVID-19 sera. The COVID-19 jabs have been developed to reduce the risk of contracting the virus, especially in the vulnerable age demographic, children ages 0-15 and older people 60 and above.

Aside from getting the WHO-approved shots, people should also consider taking booster shots in addition to the vaccines. COVID-19 boosters provide double protection against the virus. Because the immune system decreases from when the original vaccines have been administered, booster shots offer additional support.

It is also recommended that the public observe basic health protocols such as washing hands and wearing masks because although symptoms don’t include loss of taste and smell, these should be duly noted:

  • runny nose
  • headache,
  • fatigue,
  • sneezing, and
  • sore throat.

Officials from the government stated that mandatory PCR tests are only required if the virus is below 1%.A coronavirus private testing might still be necessary for travellers, depending on where they are coming from or what country they are visiting. This test must be completed at least 24 hours before you travel. Before booking a flight, you can also contact airlines to inquire about their health requirements.

Check out this infographic from Harley Medic International to learn more about COVID-19 Testing for the Omicron Variant.