Got a cold? Get tested for Covid-19 immediately: New research
People suffering from cold-like symptoms, such as a cough or a runny rose, should be advised to seek out a Covid-19 test immediately, according to the results of a new study by UMC Utrecht. By minimizing the delay in getting tested, the researchers say, up to 80 percent of new transmissions could potentially be avoided.
The study follows as the Netherlands started to slowly emerge from two months of government restrictions. As the crush of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths has eased, public areas, such as shopping streets, have grown increasingly crowded in the country, upping the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 transmission.
According to the researchers at UMC Utrecht, the study's findings indicate that the longer that testing is delayed, the larger a new coronavirus infection cluster becomes. They explain that, as long as the virus' basic reproduction number ('R0') remains below one, meaning that one person infects less than one other, the total number of infected people will decrease.
In practice, however, the researchers explain that this is not a realistic aim. Instead, they suggest that swift testing should be central to the development of an effective contact tracing strategy (CTS).
"Minimizing testing delay is of key importance for the effectiveness of CTS. Optimizing testing and tracing coverage and minimizing tracing delays, for instance with app-based technology further enhances effectiveness of CTS, with a potential to prevent up to 80% of all transmissions," the researchers explain.
"The process of conventional contact tracing should be reviewed and streamlined, while mobile app technology may offer a tool for gaining speed in the process," they add.
According to UMC Utrecht virologist Marc Bonten, testing is only an effective solution if it is carried out swiftly. Believing the government's approach to testing to be too bureaucratic, Bonten envisions people being able to access testing at the first sign of showing symptoms, as opposed to waiting for a doctor to determine whether or not a test would contribute to the treatment or care of a patient.
"If testing doesn't happen quickly, the added value of contact research or a contact app is quite small," he told the newspaper De Volkskrant. "There has been a lot of attention recently for the importance of testing, but not for its speed. Nobody says: we have to test as soon as possible."