How to properly use a rapid antigen test (self-test)One should observe the result only after 15 and before 30 minutes to prevent false positive or negative results.
Covid-19 is confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a rapid antigen test. A PCR test is more reliable.
Covid-19 cases are on the rise once again. Performing PCR tests for a large number of people is not feasible. It takes five to six hours to process one report. We also need a standardised laboratory to perform the test. A rapid antigen test (self-test), on the other hand, can be done in the comfort of our home.
We can obtain results within 15-30 minutes with a rapid antigen test. Given our Covid-19 situation, rapid antigen tests can be more efficient in detecting new cases.
When to test?
One should opt for a rapid antigen test three to four days after being exposed to the virus to enhance the accuracy of the test.
If one is symptomatic, one should test three to four days after the onset of symptoms.
Which kit to use?
One should check if the rapid antigen test kit has been recommended and approved by the World Health Organisation, the United States Food and Drug Administration, or the Health Ministry.
One should check the expiry date of the kit and avoid using expired kits.
One should not eat or drink while doing the test. Smoking should be strictly avoided.
One should properly sanitize hands and wear protective gloves before conducting the test.
Dedicate a clean, sanitized, and well-maintained space to perform the test.
One should place the nasal swab in the buffer extraction tube immediately after the specimen is collected to prevent contamination.
The test kit comprises an extraction buffer tube, a tube holder, a buffer tip and a swab (along with a test cassette).
To collect the nasal swab specimen, gently insert the swab into one nostril while tilting your head about 70 degrees.
Rotate the swab around the inside wall of the nostril five times. (A false negative result may occur if the specimen is not collected properly.)
Repeat the same process in another nostril.
Place the swab in the extraction buffer tube immediately and swirl it at least five times.
There is a flexible rubbery texture (reagent solution) at the tip of the extraction buffer tube. Rotate the swab and squeeze the tip to extract as much liquid as possible before taking the swab out.
Close the extraction buffer tube with the buffer tip, which also serves as a dropper.
Squeeze the extraction buffer tube and dispense three to four drops of the solution into the ‘specimen well’ of the test cassette and wait for 15 minutes to read the results.
The test cassette (white rectangular block) has a 'result window' marked by 'C' and 'T' on top and a 'specimen well' marked 'S'.
Read the results only after 15 and within 30 minutes.
A single red line on the ‘control’ or 'C' indicates a negative result.
Red lines on both the 'C' and 'T' (test) indicate a positive result.
A single red line on 'T' indicates that the result is invalid (due to various reasons).
If there are no red lines on both the 'C' and 'T', it means that the kit is invalid, and one should retest using another kit.
One should observe the result only after 15 and before 30 minutes to prevent false positive or negative results.
If the result is positive, one should follow the Covid-19 guidelines and immediately isolate.
If the result is positive, one can be sure that one has been infected.
However, there are higher chances of false negatives than false positives in antigen tests.
If the result is negative, regardless of whether one has symptoms, it is better to do a PCR test for a confirmatory result since it is more reliable.
Pack all the test kit contents in a zip lock bag after performing the test before discarding them safely.