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Interpreting COVID19 test result – a prompt for conversations with staff

Tameside and Glossop

 

Background

This is designed as a guide to prompt a conversation between an employer or occupational health team, and a member of staff who has been tested (or had a member of their household tested) for COVID-19.
If a key worker OR any member of their household develops symptoms, the key worker must self-isolate at home for 7 days from the onset of their own symptoms, or 14 days from the onset of symptoms in a household member (see full guidance for further details: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance ).
 
A full list of the frontline workers who can have a test can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested#history
 
The test is reliable for people who have had symptoms of COVID-19 for between two and five days.

  • If a key worker is self-isolating because they have symptoms then they are eligible to take this test themselves when they have had symptoms for 2-5 days.  
  • If a key worker is self-isolating because someone else in their household has symptoms, then the household member should take the test when they have had symptoms for 2-5 days - not the key worker. In this instance all household members who have symptoms are eligible for testing.  

 
The key worker or household member must continue to self-isolate whilst waiting for results of the test.
 
Provision of tests
In Tameside and Glossop, there is a local COVID-19 testing site at Ashton Primary Care Centre. The key worker can request a testing appointment by emailing tgccg.covid-19testing@nhs.net.
In all of the current testing arrangements, the type of test is a PCR test, where a swab is taken and then sent to a laboratory. The results should be available within 72hrs. The individual is notified of their result directly.
  
 
Interpreting results and what to do next
The tested key worker should report their result back to their employer. If you have not heard from your employee within 72 hours of the time of the test, you need to contact the employee, discuss the test result and advise on their return to work.
 
Please use the table below for the interpretation of results and as a prompt for advice to give to your employee:

 

Test result

Person tested

Positive

Negative

Employee

See also the return to work flowchart and for health and social care staff the return to work criteria outlined here.
 
I’m sorry to hear that you [the employee] have confirmed COVID-19. You should continue to isolate as per guidance for 7 days from the day when your symptoms first started, and use NHS 111 online (or call 111) should you become more unwell.

You can return to work after 7 days (i.e. on day 8) from when symptoms began, provided that your symptoms have improved and you have had no fever for 2 days (cough may be the only persistent symptom left). If you are still unwell after 7 days, you should consider contacting the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or in a medical emergency dialling 999.

If you were admitted to ITU or are immunosuppressed, the isolation period is 14 days from the date of your positive result: further information can be found here .

If you were asymptomatic when you were tested, you must isolate for 7 days from the date of the test. You can return to work on day 8 without a further test*. If you develop symptoms after your positive test, you must re-start your 7 day isolation period from the date you develop symptoms.

All other members of your household also need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day your symptoms started (or the date of your positive test if you do not have symptoms).

Further information about self-isolation can be found in the full guidance

Currently it is unknown how long any immunity to COVID-19 might last. If you become unwell again, you should self-isolate and may need to be tested again.
See also the return to work flowchart and for health and social care staff the return to work criteria outlined here .
 
A negative result means that COVID-19 was not detected at the time of the test.

However, if you are still unwell, you must stay at home and off work until you have had no symptoms for 48 hours. If you are still within 5 days of the start of your symptoms, you can have a repeat test.
If you develop a new fever/cough/ loss of sense of smell or taste, you will need to self-isolate for another 7 days from when the new symptoms began. In this situation, you may be able to have a repeat test.

If your symptoms worsen or you are concerned about your health use NHS 111, contact your GP or (in an emergency) dial 999.

As your result is negative, other members of the household do not need to self-isolate if they are all well. However, even if you have a negative test, if you are living with someone who has symptoms which may be COVID-19 and has either not been tested, or has tested positive, you should continue to isolate for 14 days from the time when your household member became unwell.

Household member of the employee (and the employee has no symptoms)

You [the employee] should continue to isolate for 14 days from the time when your household member became unwell.  If you develop symptoms, you should isolate for 7 days from the date your symptoms start. Further information about this self-isolation can be found in the full guidance
 

A negative result means that it is unlikely that your [the employee’s] household member had COVID-19 at the time of the test. You [the employee] can return to work.
 
If you develop fever/cough/ loss of sense of taste or smell, you will need to isolate for 7 days, as per the guidance.   In this situation, a test for you can be arranged.
 
Your household member must stay at home and remain off work (if applicable) until they have had no symptoms for 48 hours. If the member of your household becomes unwell with new symptoms, or if another member of your household develops symptoms, you must self-isolate again for 14 days from the onset of these symptoms. In this situation, your household member may be eligible for a further test.
If their symptoms worsen or they are concerned about their health use NHS 111, contact their GP or (in an emergency) dial 999..


If you have any questions about this advice, or your situation falls outside the scenarios here, please call Public Health England North West on 0344 225 0562.
 
Other things to consider in your conversation:

  • This may be a stressful and worrying time for your employeeIf they need any support with their mental wellbeing, then Greater Manchester Combined Authority launched its new SHOUT service – a confidential, 24/7 text service for people aged 16+, operated by trained crisis volunteers who will chat using text responses. Advice is available for anyone struggling with a host of issues, including: anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm, bullying or relationship issues. In Tameside and Glossop, the SHOUT service can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, simply by texting “GMTandG” to 85258.
     
  • Are they isolating and will struggle to access food/medicines etc.?If they are self-isolating and have no other option for collecting medicines or accessing food, they can call: 0161 342 8355. This number is available Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 5.00pm, Saturday: 10am to 4pm
     
  • Are they having financial difficulties as a result of not being able to work or their household having to isolate?Please ask them to visit: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/coronavirus/employment
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