Coronavirus: when and who can use the diagnostic test?

Reported cases of coronavirus are increasing worldwide and in France. Individuals who have stayed in countries at risk and who show symptoms of respiratory infection are subjected to the diagnostic test. How does it work? Answers.


  1. Who can get tested for the new coronavirus?
  2. How does their management take place in the event of suspected contamination?
  3. What is the coronavirus diagnostic test

The COVID-19 coronavirus declared on December 31, 2019 in the city of Wuhan in China is spreading around the world. In France on March 5, 2020, the Ministry of Health counted  more than 300 cases of infection with the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Who can get tested for the new coronavirus?

A person who has traveled or stayed in China or  in an area where the virus is actively circulating , i.e. Singapore, South Korea, Lombardy and Veneto regions in Italy and Iran and who shows signs of infection respiratory within 14 days must be supported in one of the establishments identified on the French territory.  ” Caregivers in close contact with confirmed cases are also potential cases of coronavirus” , explains Dr Agnès Ricard-Hibon, president of the French Society of Emergency Medicine (SFMU) 1 . 

The health authorities advise against going directly to hospitals to be tested, it would be either the best way or to spread the contamination or to be infected in case of non-positivity.

A person who has symptoms and who has been in close contact with an individual who has stayed in a country at risk may also be tested for coronavirus.

This is why these individuals must carefully monitor their health during these 14 days. The Ministry of Health recommends:

  • Monitor its temperaturetwice a day;
  • Wear a surgical maskin the presence of those around you and outside your home;
  • Reducenon-essential activities ;
  • Reduce its frequentationof places where fragile people are found such as hospitals;
  • If washing handsregularly;
  • Contact SAMU Center 15in case of fever, cough, breathing difficulties and report your trip;
  • Do not go directlyto the doctor or to the hospital emergency room.

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How does their management take place in the event of suspected contamination?

The first step is to screen for a suspect patient by verifying how they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. It is recommended that medical personnel do not neglect the alternative diagnosis in order to avoid any harm to the patient. Several pathologies can be the cause of respiratory infection and / or fever upon return from Asia such as bacterial pneumonia , dengue fever , Japanese encephalitis , salmonellosis or even malaria .

The second step is to protect the patient to avoid contaminating the population . The measures to be implemented upon suspicion are as follows: the patient must wash their hands with hydroalcoholic solutions and wear the surgical mask , then be isolated in a pre-identified individual room. Caregivers are responsible for looking for signs of severity in the patient, including signs of respiratory distress and any associated disorders.

However, these measures may change. “If the patient shows a sign of seriousness, it is still supported in the infectious diseases or resuscitation if the prognosis is engaged. If the symptoms are not serious, we will soon test the ambulatory sectors and return to  home the patients “ informs Dr Agnès Ricard-Hibon.

“We are in the process of implementing the project. As soon as the virus is already circulating, the measure of systematic hospitalization aimed at curbing the spread no longer makes sense. We must reserve rooms for patients who justify hospitalization . patients coronavirus  without complications can be monitored remotely and be isolated at home waiting for the test and when symptomatic , “ she says. medical supervision and barriers hygiene measures will be square.

On March 4, 2020, the Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris 2 (APHP) published on its website an update on the coronavirus management system. Among the regulations is the  “outpatient management of patients with Covid-19 coronavirus who do not have any severity criteria if their state of health allows it with an accompanying device for their return home “ .

What is the coronavirus diagnostic test

reference infectiologist from the COVID-19 authorized healthcare establishment is responsible for carrying out the patient’s clinical and epidemiological analysis. The goal is to estimate the probability that he is contaminated by the virus and to classify the suspect patient in case of possible COVID-19 coronavirus.

The patient uses several examinations such as radiography and scanner . The type of sample taken is often a deep respiratory microbiological sample , from the upper part of the nose as well as from the bronchi . The sample is  sent to a laboratory equipped with diagnostic tests and to the National Reference Center for respiratory infection viruses (CNR) of the Institut Pasteur.

The implementation of the test makes it possible to know whether the substance sampled is loaded with virus or not. The result is obtained after 3 to 5 hours .

If the tests are positive for the coronavirus , there is a referral decision with the referring infectious disease specialist. The patient who does not show severe symptoms may be sent home with remote medical supervision. If his condition is worrying, he will be taken care of by a reference health establishment is pre-identified by the Regional Health Agency (ARS). There are currently 38 in France , 70 other establishments should be activated according to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran. The patient will be transported under the responsibility of SAMU-Center 15

by Abdullah Sam
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