The sun is out, the shops are open and we are easing ourselves out of lockdown.
Whilst it is wonderful to see families reunited, people finally able to picnic with friends in the park, and our non-essential stores reopen, Covid 19 has not gone away.
We are very much testing the water in terms of the Lockdown ease. So over the next few weeks, it is inevitable that we are going to see sporadic cases of COVID occurring again because people are back in circulation.
A second peak is always a possibility, but thankfully as we know more about the virus and are now all well versed in social distancing, hand washing and face mask etiquette, it is less likely.
Our advice is that anyone who experiences COVID type symptoms should take a test.
This is vitally important if we want to prevent a second wave of the Virus and protect our families and those around us. From the start of the pandemic we have worked closely with the London clinic to secure quick turn-around on acute Coronavirus testing.
How do I know if I have COVID?
If you experience the symptoms below you should take a Coronavirus test
- High temperature
- New or continuous cough
- Loss or change of sense of smell or taste
- Cold or flu symptoms
Most people with Coronavirus have one or more of these symptoms. Symptoms usually come on 5-6 days after you have been exposed to an infected person but can be as rapid as 48 hours to as long at 14 days. Testing is done via a simple self taken swab of the nose and throat with the results being processed on the same day.
How do I know If I have had COVID?
Over the past month we have also been offering antibody testing. The test we are currently offering screens for IGG antibody which confirms a patient has been infected with Coronavirus previously. Patients should do this test if they wish to know whether they have previously had Covid19.
Please be aware the global consensus of the medical profession is that we cannot yet say whether antibodies confer immunity on you against further infection, neither do we know how long they last.
We are no longer offering finger prick self-testing antibody kits. All tests must now be done in clinic or can be done by a visiting nurse in the comfort of your own home. You can take this test anytime from 2 weeks after symptoms start.
What about the IGM antibody?
By the end of this week we will be in a position to offer both IGG and IGM antibody testing which is the testing being carried out in response to the Governments National Pandemic Strategy.
This screens both IGM-the antibody that develops first in response to infection and IGG which occurs after infection and remains. To take this test you should be at least 2 weeks from the time your symptoms first started to ensure accuracy.
Just like the regular antibody test it is taken by means of a blood test from the vein.
Can I do other blood tests at the same time?
Yes. If you are due to your routine blood these can be taken at the same time provided you let the doctor or nurse know in advance. There is no requirement to fast for the antibody test but if you require additional bloods such a as cholesterol then it is necessary.
What about regular screening? Is that now available?
We welcome the fact that the London clinic has opened its doors to patients and remains clear of COVID. Patients who are due screens like Mammograms, Smears test and Bone density tests can now avail of these. We have also started to do health screenings again and have come up with an alternative format which results in minimal infection risk.
What about face to face appointments?
We are fortunate to have ample supplies of PPE and are able to see and examine patients face to face. While some problems can be resolved on the phone others do require a physical examination to establish what is going on.
We actively encourage patients who have concerns that they have been ignoring that are not due to COVID, to come forward.
Research published last week showed Cancer referrals were down 68% in April with breast cancer referrals cited as being down a staggering 78%.We are confident that we can do everything to minimise your infection risk and would like to reassure you that the hospital actively screens in-patients and those requiring procedures, and has a current infection rate of zero.
Can I still do home blood tests, telephone consultations and have prescriptions delivered?
Yes these services remain and will form part of our service for the future.
Working collaboratively with nurses, laboratories, pharmacies and courier services during this time has helped us evolve many of our services so they are more convenient for you.
As doctors we understand the clinical need for a blood test, wound dressing or prescription should never put your health in jeopardy.
The pandemic has resulted in some fantastic innovations in terms of how care is delivered, so if in doubt about what you need or how to get it please just ask.