What is the coronavirus?
At the end of 2019, a new infectious disease emerged in China: Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The new virus spread rapidly across the world and has now caused many cases of illness and deaths. In addition, the spread of the virus has a huge impact on social and economic conditions worldwide. Covid-19 is the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus causes colds and fever and in severe cases, it can even cause breathing problems. In order to become infected with a virus such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus must come into contact with the mucous membrane. The virus is spread by, for example, coughing or sneezing, where small droplets end up in the air and can be inhaled by others through aerosols, causing contamination with the coronavirus. The virus also survives on a variety of surfaces such as steel and skin. Therefore it can also be contracted by getting it into the eyes, mouth, or nose through the hands.
The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is not the first outbreak involving a coronavirus. For example, in 2003 there was an outbreak with SARS, also a coronavirus. Or in 2012 when another coronavirus caused a lot of deaths, the MERS-CoV. These are two serious strains of the coronavirus, but there are also cold viruses that are caused by a coronavirus. These are strains that are not dangerous for humans and only cause mild complaints. The coronavirus in itself is therefore not new.
From the 1st of June 2020, anyone with complaints who may be carrying Covid-19 can be tested free of charge at the GGD for the presence of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) by means of a so-called PCR test. This test focuses on the presence of the virus in your mucous membrane. Samples will then be taken from your nose and throat mucosa with a swab. However, there are many people who have already experienced a period of illness and would like to test whether they have had the virus. Because this is not possible at the GGD, from now we offer this at StadsKliniek. By means of a blood test for antibodies that your body produces in response to the virus. You can also come to StadsKliniek for a PCR test if, for example, you need proof that you are corona-free for a trip. However, your visit is only possible if you have no complaints.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
Most people with Covid-19 have mild symptoms. Not everyone has the same complaints. Below we have listed the most common complaints. You may have (or have had) only some of these complaints or not at all. It takes an average of 5-6 days for people to show symptoms after contracting a coronavirus infection. Although this can take up to 14 days.
Pay attention! If you currently have mild symptoms or complaints, have yourself tested by a doctor or the GGD to determine whether you have an infection with the coronavirus. Please take the appropriate precautions.
Symptoms with mild infection
- Increase to 38 degrees Celsius
- Slight dry cough
- Sudden loss of smell or taste
- Cold / runny nose
- Sore throat
- Pain in the body
Symptoms of severe infection
- Increase to 38 degrees Celsius
- Slight dry cough
- Sudden loss of smell or taste
- Cold / runny nose
- Sore throat
- Pain in the body
When should you test for corona?
You can have yourself tested for immunity against the coronavirus in the following cases:
- You have been ill more than 10 days ago and had symptoms commonly linked with Covid-19
- Someone in your family or immediate environment has had complaints that are commonly linked with Covid-19
- You have been in contact with someone who has/had a confirmed infection with the new coronavirus
- You have not had any complaints, but you want to know if you have had an infection with corona.
How do you get infected with the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections and are transmitted via droplet transfer. For example, through sneezing or coughing (but also to a lesser extent when talking) whereby small droplets are released into the air. These droplets are so small that you cannot see them. The smaller the droplet, the longer the droplet lingers in the air and can spread itself.
You can inhale these droplets, after which the virus comes into direct contact with your mucous membrane and can cause an infection. The droplets can also settle on your hands, after which you can contract the virus with your eyes, mouth, or nose. Eventually, the droplets descend on surfaces. The type of surfaces (for example stone, metal, or paper) determines how long the virus can survive on it.
However, the chance that you will become infected with the coronavirus by touching surfaces is very small. Nevertheless, it is wise to avoid becoming infected through this route as much as possible. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and do this especially after touching outdoor surfaces or, for example, money. Also, avoid touching your face as much as possible when you are outside.
Consequences of infection with the coronavirus
Most of the people (80%) have little or no complaints when they are infected with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). If they become ill, the symptoms are mild and the complaints disappear completely without any residual symptoms within 1-2 weeks.
Because we are talking about a new outbreak, studies are constantly being published that provide insight into the number of people with an asymptomatic infection. From the most recent studies, this number is estimated to be between 25 and 50%. The long-term effects of going through Covid-19 are still largely unclear.
People who have been more seriously ill and have had breathing problems can damage their organs. Some of them may have sequelae that affect lung function called Covid-19 Associated Lung Disease (CALD). This occurs especially in people who have been admitted to intensive care (IC) for a long time and have been ventilated. In addition to these lung complaints, they can also have problems with the heart. Clots may also have formed, often in the pulmonary veins, causing residual damage.
In addition, after a long-term IC admission, there is often malnutrition, weakened respiratory muscles (due to prolonged ventilation), and general muscle weakness and these people will have to rehabilitate (sometimes long-term). This can also have repercussions on the psyche and cause psychological complaints such as sadness and anxiety. The residual symptoms can be long-lasting or even become chronic. How well someone recovers also depends on the condition before contracting the virus.
How is the presence of Covid-19 coronavirus diagnosed?
Corona can be diagnosed in various ways, namely when there are complaints by means of a so-called PCR test, which searches for hereditary material of the virus. This test shows whether there is an infection or not.
When the infection has healed, the test will no longer show any virus. The test is performed by swapping nasal and pharyngeal tissue. It’s also possible to test for antibodies against the new coronavirus. A so-called ELISA test is used for this. This is done through a blood test taken by a healthcare provider.
The blood is then tested in the laboratory for the presence of antibodies against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This test shows whether the infection has passed and can be done from 10 days after the first day of illness. Below we tell more about both tests, the method, and the results.
To know whether you are an (asymptomatic) carrier of the coronavirus, it is necessary to have a so-called PCR test performed. This test shows whether you are carrying living (or dead) genetic material of the virus. The test answers to the question of whether you are infected (or have been infected very recently) with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
For this test, a swab will be done by a healthcare provider to make a smear of the mucous membrane of the nose and throat. This is often experienced as annoying, but fortunately, it does not take long. This test can be performed from the moment you have complaints. For this, you can contact the GGD for free.
If you have no complaints and you have to prove that you do not have corona for work or traveling reasons, it is also necessary to have a PCR test performed. This is the only test designated for this. Unfortunately, the GGD can’t help you in this case. StadsKliniek offers this test for this purpose. You will receive the result of the test after one day, with the original laboratory result as proof.
Important to know
- The PCR test is usually performed to show whether someone carries the virus and/or has the disease and can be performed on the basis of complaints.
- If you have no complaints and need proof that you are not wearing corona, it does not matter when you take the test
- Most countries that require proof that you are corona-free require a laboratory result that is no older than 4 days.
- Because the corona PCR test is an aerosolizing operation (which easily releases small droplets of saliva into the air), the nurse practitioner always wears safe aids such as splash goggles, an FFP2 mask, gloves, and an apron.
- The wicking of the swabs can cause a gagging tendency and/or sneeze response.
- You can only come to StadsKliniek if you have no complaints. Do you have complaints and are you possibly a carrier of the coronavirus? Then contact the GGD to make an appointment for a PCR test.
- The test shows the presence of hereditary material of the coronavirus.
What does a negative corona PCR test mean?
A negative Covid-19 PCR test means that you do not have Covid-19 and are not carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the time you took the test. You will receive an official laboratory result from us and if desired, an accompanying letter. Hand it over to the travel agency or immigration service of the country you are traveling to as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that the result of the test often may not be older than 3-4 days on departure.
What does a positive corona PCR test mean?
A positive coronavirus PCR test means that evidential material of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has been detected in the samples taken from your mucous membranes. In short, that means that you carry the virus with you. The Cobas 6800 SARS-CoV-2 essay PCR used by our lab is very reliable in detecting the coronavirus (overall agreement of 99.6% (n = 501), positive agreement of 100.0% (n = 63), negative agreement or 99.5% (n = 438) (Poljak, et al., 2020).
Because a PCR test looks for genetic material (RNA) and cannot distinguish between dead or living material, the test may be positive and the virus may already be dead. This concerns leftovers of genetic material that have not yet been cleared up by your body. Because this is a new virus and a new test, we do not yet know enough to be able to say how long this dead RNA will remain, but it is expected that this will only be very short.
The chance is therefore greatest that you are infected with the virus. Unfortunately, you will not be able to travel or have to postpone your trip. It is also important that you go into quarantine and warn your direct contacts.
Direct corona PCR test, without waiting time
If you have booked a trip abroad, you may be asked to prove that you are not infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Often this result should not be older than 3-4 days at the time of your departure. At StadsKliniek you can have a corona PCR test performed for this purpose if you have no complaints. You will receive the result within 1 working day. Make an appointment now in one of our clinics or call 085 065 7672 for more information
Result of the corona PCR test within 1 working day
After you have had a corona PCR test done in our clinic, the samples taken are immediately examined and analyzed in the laboratory. Our laboratory is ISO-certified and part of a large hospital group. The samples are analyzed every working day. We will pass on the result to you using the method of your choice (SMS, secure email, telephone). You can also contact our clinic to request the results. The original laboratory result is always available.
Corona antibody test
If you want to know whether you have been infected with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the past, you must look for antibodies in the blood. The ELISA antibody test that StadsKliniek offers is taken by one of our BIG-registered doctors or nurses and is performed in the ISO-15189 accredited hospital laboratory with which we work together.
The Wantai SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies test used by StadsKliniek meets the criteria set in advance by the Dutch expert group (specificity >98% and sensitivity >95% from 10 days after the onset of complaints) for diagnostics in a population of patients with mild complaints or with asymptomatic infections because the sensitivity is 95-100% in these populations >10 days after the start of symptoms. The sensitivity is the number of rightly positive people. The specificity is the number of rightly negative persons (this is 99.6%). If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us.
Important to know
- The test can be performed from 10 days after the 1st day of illness, However, the test is more reliable when performed >4 weeks because we are sure that in >90% of the people who have undergone COVID-19 antibodies are detectable from 4 weeks after the 1st day of illness.
- It is not (yet) known how long the antibodies will remain detectable. So it is wise to have the test done as soon as possible after you have symptoms.
- The level of antibodies says nothing about the actual build-up of immunity since only the circulating antibodies are detected.
- In people who have had an asymptotic or mild infection, the antibodies may be low or absent, this has no predictive value (yet) about the built-up immunity.
- When making an appointment for an antibody test, take the regulations of the RIVM into account. This means that you no longer have complaints that match COVID-19 for at least 24 hours and it has been at least 7 days since you became ill. If you also have a chronic illness, the first day of illness must have been at least 14 days ago.
What does a positive corona antibody test mean?
If the antibody test is positive, this means that antibodies of the Ig-G type against the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have been detected in your blood. This result shows that you have had COVID-19.
Although not enough is yet known about the built-up immunity after experiencing a COVID-19 infection, the WHO expects that the disease will be less severe in the event of a new infection. Meaning that the infection is expected to be mild or asymptotic. This prediction has been made on the basis of the knowledge that there is about other (corona) cold viruses.
It is important to know that it is likely that a re-infected person can transmit the virus. According to the RIVM, you can lift the quarantine if you have no complaints (fever, cough, cold) for 24 hours and it is at least a week after you have developed the first symptoms. You can no longer infect other people.
When you have received a positive result, there is always a chance that you have not actually had COVID-19. The sensitivity (rightly positive results) of the current test from 10 days after the onset of the complaints is already 95-100% and increases the longer you wait with the test. If you’ve had mild complaints, we recommend that you perform the test after 4 weeks.
What does a negative corona antibody test mean?
A negative corona antibody test basically means that you haven’t had COVID-19. A small comment must be made here. Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is relatively new, plenty of research is still being done into immunity.
The first studies that have been carried out confirm that the test used by StadsKliniek is very reliable. The specificity (rightly negative results) is 99.6%. However, the studied population of asymptomatic people and people with mild complaints is small. This is because it is more difficult to conduct research on people who have no or few complaints unless a positive PCR test has been done when there were complaints.
Therefore, more research is needed in this group.
Immediately a corona test, without waiting time
If you have been ill (more severe or mild), you can have the coronatest for antibodies performed at StadsKliniek from 10 days after your first day of illness. Even if you have had no complaints, but people in your area have had corona (whether or not it has been proven), you can have a corona immunity test done at StadsKliniek. Make an appointment now in one of our clinics or call 085 065 7672 for more information.
Result of the corona test within 1 working day
After you’ve had a corona test done in our clinic, the samples taken are immediately examined and analyzed in the laboratory. Our laboratory is ISO-certified and part of a large hospital group.
You will receive the result within 1 working day. We will pass on the result to you, using the method you prefer (text message, secure email, telephone). You can also contact our clinic to request the results. The original laboratory result is always available.
- NURSING. (2020, 06 06). From https://www.nursing.nl/magazine-artikelen/klinisch-redeneren-bij-covid-19-deel-5-nazorg/
- Reimerink, J. B., Brouwer, F., Hoogerwerf, M., Goderski, G., Meijer, A., & Reusken, C. (2020). Sensitivity and specificity of Wantai Ab and EUROIMMUN IgG/IgA SARS-CoV-2 ELISA tests in clinical patients. (p. 6). Bilthoven: RIVM.
- RIVM. (2020, 06 06). From https://www.rivm.nl/coronavirus-covid-19
- Werkgroep serologie, onderdeel van Landelijke Coördinatiestructuur Testcapaciteit. (2020). Rapportage Status validatie van ELISA en autoanalyzer antilichaam testen voor diagnostiek van SARS-CoV-2; overwegingen voor gebruik.
- WHO. (2020, 06 06). From https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- WHO. (2020). Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). World Health Organization.
- Poljak, M., Korva, M., Knap Gašper, N., Fujs Komloš, K., Sagadin, M., Uršicˇ, T., . . . Petroveca, M. (2020). Clinical Evaluation of the cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test and a Diagnostic Platform Switch during 48 Hours in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 58, 6 .