6 Things to Know About Rapid COVID-19 Testing Before Your Trips

Updated on December 6, 2021

Have you recently decided to travel outside of the United States for vacation or a business trip? If so, knowing about coronavirus, rapid diagnostic tests, and COVID-19 treatment is essential.

It is because if you become ill before your trips, rapid coronavirus testing can be used to determine whether you are fit to travel.

1. What is COVID-19 Testing?

COVID-19 testing is a rapid coronavirus test that can be used to detect the presence of the virus in people who have respiratory symptoms, according to the CDC. It’s also referred to as an “outbreak detection assay.”

2. What are the Symptoms?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  states covid-19 has several symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms while traveling outside of the United States, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately so your doctor can administer COVID-19 treatment.

3. Why Do You Need COVID-19 Testing Before Traveling?

COVID-19 testing is used to help determine whether you’re fit to travel. You may need this test if you have recently come down with a respiratory illness while traveling outside the United States, especially in regions where coronavirus outbreaks are common.

This way, your medical professionals can advise you on whether it is safe to continue traveling.

4. Which Countries Have Had Outbreaks?

There have been several coronavirus outbreaks recently, including some in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

5. How to Get This Test Done?

According to the CDC, you will need to take this test while you are ill or soon after you become ill. Results are available within 30 minutes if you go through a travel clinic or other medical office with access to this type of testing technology. However, your doctor may still need time before giving you specific advice about whether it is safe for you to continue traveling.

6. What Does the Test Results Mean?

According to the CDC, false-negative COVID-19 testing results are possible in people who have had coronavirus but are on the mend or show only mild symptoms. However, it is rare for a false-positive test result to occur, which means that people without coronavirus will not get a positive result. 

That said, if you choose to travel while waiting for your test results, be sure to take standard precautions against infection by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick people. If you feel ill at any point while traveling after receiving COVID-19 testing, seek medical attention right away so you can receive appropriate treatment. 

As always, make sure to discuss your plans with your doctor before any trip. The American College of Physicians (ACP) also recommends that all travelers receive vaccines and counseling about prevention, detection, and treatment of infectious diseases, including the coronavirus.

Understanding Rapid Diagnostic Testing

Rapid coronavirus testing is mainly used for early detection of typical respiratory infections like Influenza (flu), Adenovirus (a most common cause of acute respiratory disease), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Testing is done through a nasal swab test that provides results in about an hour. It is not recommended to use rapid coronavirus testing to detect MERS-CoV (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) because it can only be detected through traditional blood tests like RT-PCR.

Although rapid testing is typically used within the United States, Customs, and Border Protection offers to screen for travelers returning from certain countries where common respiratory illnesses are endemic; however, this test is not comprehensive enough to detect all strains of common diseases like adenovirus, RSV, and nor does it provide any information about potential complications like pneumonia.

Again, this test is not recommended to diagnose MERS-CoV. There are no current FDA-approved rapid coronavirus tests to diagnose or treat MERS-CoV or other viral respiratory infections.

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