2. When should one get tested ?
Testing of symptomatic persons remains essential and is recommended at the slightest suspicion.
Likewise, testing of symptomless persons who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person is strongly recommended, for example during an outbreak in a school or an elderly nursing home, or during quarantine following close contact, and this would also include children.
The new approach is to recommend testing of symptomless persons, in the form of targeted and repetitive testing in the workplace or of individual "comfort" tests.
There are chances that you have contracted a coronavirus infection if you have at least one of the following symptoms:
- Acute respiratory problems (coughing, sore throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain);
- Sudden loss of the sense of smell or taste;
- Muscle aches, headaches, general fatigue, common cold, gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain), skin rashes;
- Acute confused state in an elderly person;
- Deterioration in the general condition of an elderly person due to no known cause.
A test is recommended from the seventh day of quarantine following close contact with a positive person or after returning from a trip to a risk area, even without symptoms. Indeed, one should be aware that one person out of five becomes positive during his/her quarantine and it is important to take prompt action to avoid transmission if the test is positive.
If the test is negative, the quarantine will be lifted. However, a mask will have to be worn outside the home and a distance of 1.5m will have to be maintained until the tenth day of quarantine.
If you are registered with the Swisscovid application, you may receive an alert informing you that you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive, and recommending that you get tested.
When several people are infected in the same establishment (a company, a school, an old folks' home, etc.), the SMC can recommend an extended screening in the establishment in order to diagnose an infection, even if there are no symptoms, so as to quickly take all necessary précautions.
In accordance with the intention of the Federal Council, the canton of Geneva is preparing to introduce repeated screening in professional settings. Particular attention will be paid to sectors that present a high risk of transmission (places or events where many people are in contact) and/or vulnerability (places where many people vulnerable to COVID-19 are present), where the epidemiological value of such screening is therefore proven. Repeated screening is therefore particularly recommended in institutions where vulnerable people are present, such as nursing homes for the elderly.
A model of protection plan including repetitive screening is available on our website (link). Interested parties can submit their protection plan proposal to the following email address: email@example.com. Once the plan has been endorsed by the Cantonal Doctor's Office (SMC), it can be implemented.
More information available in this FOPH document (in French).
From now on, the FOPH recommends personalised screening with a rapid antigen test or a self-test, depending on the situation. Known as a "comfort test", this type of test can be done, for example, before visiting a vulnerable relative or before taking part in an event involving several people not living in the same household, in order to limit the risk of transmission. If you want to meet vulnerable people, you should use the rapid antigen test.
Rapid antigen tests are reimbursed by the Confederation at a rate of 1 test/day per person.
Self-tests are available free of charge in Geneva pharmacies for people who have not been vaccinated and who have not been ill with Covid-19 in the last 6 months, upon presentation of an insurance card. For people who do not have health insurance, self-tests are also available. Such tests are limited to 5 self-tests per 30-day period and per person.
Some airlines or countries require a negative COVID-19 test in order to board and land in the country. PCR tests are recommended ; however for some countries rapid tests are sufficient. Check the requirements of your airline or country of destination.