A nasopharyngeal swab is how patients currently being tested for the coronavirus. The swab, which is conducted by a medical professional, is also used to test for influenza and a few other viruses. The process fairly easy and can be done just about anywhere, such as in your car at a designated testing area. These testing facilities are being set up in various locations, including parking lots, across many states.
The test is very quick, albeit uncomfortable. It involves a cotton swab that enters one nostril and reaches the nasal cavity, which is located in the back of the throat. The swab only takes a few seconds from start to finish and is conducted while the patient is sitting down.
During a press conference on Monday, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir spoke to the American people about the test and the precautionary measures being taken by those conducting it.
"In order to do the test, a health care provider needs to dress in full personal protective equipment. There's a swab that's put in the back of the nose, all the way to the back of the throat. It's called a nasopharyngeal swab, which is then put in media. The next person who has to get tested, that health care provider has to change all of the personal protective equipment," Giroir explained.
Collected cells are sent off to a lab for testing. At this time, results for the coronavirus could take anywhere from several hours to a couple of weeks, though officials are working to shorten that time span.
During the aforementioned press conference, President Donald Trump confirmed that he received a nasopharyngeal swab to test for coronavirus on Friday night.
"Not something I want to do every day, I can tell you that... Good doctors in the White House, but it's a medical test, nothing pleasant about it," he said. His test results came back negative.
If you have tested positive for coronavirus and you are no longer showing symptoms, you may still be contagious. The government is requesting all infected patients be tested with a nose swab two additional times, 24 hours apart, after symptoms subside. If both of these subsequent tests are negative, the patient is no longer considered infected with the virus.
According to the CDC, patients infected with the coronavirus may experience a fever, dry cough, and/or shortness of breath. If you are showcasing these symptoms, you are urged to call your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor will determine whether or not you should be seen for a nasopharyngeal swab and will let you know where to go to be tested.