Contributed by: Healthians Team
The Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, also known as the RT-PCR test, is one of the most widely used lab tests to determine the presence of coronavirus in human cells.
It is regarded as the gold standard of testing for Covid-19 because it is able to successfully find out even tiny amounts of the virus with a low chance for error compared to other types of laboratory tests.
Due to the high accuracy and reliability of the results, the test can help in the early detection of the variant and control its spread.
However, it’s important to remember that this test can’t tell you whether or not you’ve been infected before; instead, it’s used to assess the present presence of coronavirus in your blood.
How reliable is the RT-PCR test for Covid-19?
Benefits of the real-time RT-PCR Technique for Covid-19 include:
- The test is guaranteed to deliver very sensitive and accurate findings in under 3 to 4 hours.
- RT-PCR is faster than other procedures and has a lower chance of contamination and mistake.
- It is the most precise way of determining whether a person has an active Covid-19 infection.
Who needs testing?
If a person exhibits Covid-19 symptoms, the RT-PCR test is advised. The major symptoms of Covid-19 infection include:
- Fever, chills, headaches, myalgia,
- Fatigue, lethargy and exhaustion
- Runny nose
- Coughing, sore throat, and shallow breathing
- Rash, conjunctivitis, mucositis
- Has a close/household contact but is asymptomatic
Observational studies indicate that a few people with Covid-19 can also experience specific neurological symptoms, which may occur with or without respiratory symptoms. These include:
- Loss of smell
- Inability to taste
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke
In addition, some gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are seen in people with COVID-19, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
How is the RT-PCR test done?
The RT-PCR test procedure requires a sample from a person, which is collected by a health care provider.
It involves collecting specimens from the upper respiratory tract with a nasal swab, isolating (extracting) genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and using the PCR technique to amplify the amounts of the virus’s genetic material to a level where the virus is detectable if present.
Where to get RT-PCR Test done in India?
The RT-PCR test is available in all parts of India. The test can be done at any reputable molecular diagnostics lab or hospital.
Alternatively, for the RT-PCR test, home sample collections are offered, in which the samples will be collected using a swab from the patient’s nose or throat by healthcare personnel wearing personal protective equipment suits, gloves, masks, and shields.
Is the RT-PCR report accurate?
The accuracy of any diagnostic test is determined by a number of criteria, including whether the sample was properly obtained, when the testing was performed throughout the course of the illness, and if the sample was kept in adequate conditions while being delivered to the laboratory.
That’s why it is important to ensure that the laboratory has the highest level of competence.
As of now, the RT-PCR test is the most recommended one for tracing the coronavirus infection.
When properly performed by a health care professional, the test results are very accurate.
If you happen to notice the symptoms of Covid-19, go for an RT-PCR test.
If the test is positive, you must adhere to all Covid-19 self-quarantine protocols, which include self-isolation, taking prescribed medications, eating a nutritious diet, and monitoring vital signs such as oxygen saturation.