Time is of the essence for many people who require a PCR test. In this guide, we will discuss same-day and urgent PCR testing, provide information about what the test is, how it is completed and how long it takes.
Introduction: What is a PCR test?
Since March 2020, the world has been battling COVID-19, a coronavirus which is circulating globally. PCR testing is used to detect positive cases of COVID-19 and provide reassurance for individuals with a negative result who wish to go about their daily activities. PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. A PCR test involves collecting a sample and then analyzing the results in a laboratory by amplifying the presence of the specific viral DNA sequence. The sample is tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
In most countries, individuals who test positive are required to isolate for a period to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. PCR testing is primarily used to identify cases, but it is increasingly common to use testing to enable people to travel, attend events or access public or private spaces, such as workplaces.
What happens when you have an urgent PCR test?
If you make an appointment for an urgent PCR test at a facility like Swift Clinics, the process is very simple. You can book an appointment online or over the telephone and are asked to present to the clinic at your designated time slot. You will need to provide some personal information, for example, your contact details, when you arrive. You will also be asked if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
The testing process is quick, and it only takes a few seconds to collect the sample by our well qualified licensed nursing team. Depending on the clinic you visit, a practitioner will use a nasal swab, a nasopharyngeal swab, or both to collect your sample. A nasopharyngeal swab involves placing the swab gently inside the nostril, pushing it towards the back of the throat, and brushing it against the upper part of the pharynx. The swab may then be used to collect a sample from inside the nostrils. The nasal swab is inserted into the nostril only and rubbed gently against the side of the nose, and the process is then repeated in the other nostril. The nasal swab is generally considered to be slightly gentler, but in some cases, a nasopharyngeal swab is required.
Urgent PCR testing is available for customers who need fast results. The testing process is exactly the same as standard PCR testing, but the results are provided in a shorter period of time. Rather than having to wait until the end of the day, clients receive their results within 1-2 hours. In most cases, customers will receive an email which includes their test results.
Why would I need an urgent PCR test?
There are two main reasons for PCR testing. The first is to identify and confirm positive cases of COVID-19. The second is to screen for COVID-19 to help people move around safely. Many businesses, for example, are using testing as a means of helping employees to return to work without increasing the risk of developing and spreading COVID-19. Common reasons to book a PCR test include:
- Returning to work
- Travelling (many countries require tourists to present a negative test result to gain entry)
- Attending events, such as concerts, sports events and business conferences, and exhibitions
- Corporate testing (ongoing testing to keep employees and customers safe)
- Film and production crew testing
- Sports team testing for tournaments
- Personal screening
- Special occasions, for example, weddings
Urgent PCR tests offer the advantage of a rapid turnaround time, which enables individuals to make plans without worrying about having to isolate while they await their results.
If you are scheduling a PCR test for travel purposes it is essential to check your destination and airline entry requirements before you have your test. Some countries require a negative test result within a set time period before travel. There may also be specific requirements in terms of the type of test and accuracy ratings. If you don’t meet the criteria you may be refused entry. In some cases, there are different stipulations depending on your vaccine status. Make sure you are aware of the boxes you need to check before you make travel plans.
What is the difference between urgent PCR tests and rapid antigen testing?
There are two main types of tests for COVID-19. PCR tests and rapid antigen tests (also known as lateral flow tests). The main difference between the tests is the analysis process and the methodology used to obtain a result. PCR tests are analyzed in a laboratory with specific laboratory equipment. Rapid antigen tests produce results typically within 15 minutes. Antigen tests use a cartridge to check for the presence of antigens, proteins that can be found on the surface of the virus. PCR tests check for the presence of the virus’ genetic material. Antigen testing is beneficial because it is so quick but PCR testing is more accurate.
How long does it take to get PCR test results?
In most cases, it takes between 24 and 72 hours to get a PCR test result. However, it is possible to make use of same-day and urgent PCR testing services, which provide results much faster. With urgent testing, you can have your test and get the results 1-2 hours later. Urgent testing is ideal for those who need to make travel plans at short notice, individuals who are attending events or special occasions, and employees who want to go into busy offices or crowded workplaces.
PCR tests are used widely to identify and confirm positive COVID-19 cases, but they also play a critical role in allowing individuals to move around freely, travel, return to work and attend events while staying safe. If you are planning a trip, attending a wedding, or returning back to work, you may be advised to take a PCR test. Traditionally, it takes 24-72 hours to get a test result, but same-day and urgent services are available for those who require results more promptly. Urgent tests can provide results in 1-2 hours.