We all know the importance of physical distancing and regularly washing our hands, but testing is also an essential component to controlling the spread of COVID-19. Lately, we have been hearing more questions and concerns about getting tested, and the possible stigma attached to a positive diagnosis.
“It's natural to be concerned about COVID-19," says Dr. David Torr, Saskatchewan Health Authority's interim Senior Medical Health Officer. “What we don't want is to stigmatize those who are getting tested or those who have a positive test result. This only leads to people not getting tested."
“When I arrived (at the testing site) I was a little nervous and embarrassed as I felt I should have done a better job at protecting myself and shouldn't have gotten sick in the first place," is what one patient reported feeling.
No one should feel embarrassed. COVID-19 can spread quite easily and anyone can get it, so we all need to do our part by watching for symptoms and getting tested if we experience one or more symptoms, even if they are mild.
“This is definitely a case where ignorance is not bliss," Torr noted. “Not knowing you're carrying this virus means you can be easily spreading it to those around you without knowing, including the people you love the most. It really is a selfless act to get a test. And we should treat it as such."
Testing is voluntary, quick and safe, so call HeathLine 811 if you have questions about COVID-19 and your health.
The test itself – what to expectThe most common test used in the province is the throat and nares swab, which involves swabbing the back of the throat and around each nostril.
“It just goes to the back of the throat, and is just a tickle in your nose," explains Darcie Anderson, who is the Operations Lead the testing site in Humboldt. “The test is very quick."
“The nurse doing the testing…explained the test briefly, and said to put my mask down to my chin and tilt my head back and open my mouth for her to swab the back of my throat and then each nostril and then put my mask back up. Very quickly and efficiently done," stated one patient.
That can be said for testing visits on the whole.
“From the time our clients arrive at our testing site, are tested, and then on their way is normally five to six minutes," says Anderson. “Though what every site is able to offer varies, we have the ability here sometimes to conduct testing while patients remain in their vehicle, so people don't have to even come in."
Testing sites are designed to have patients in and out efficiently, privately and as safely as possible for all involved, one patient reported.
The throat and nares swab for a COVID-19 test is performed.