The study suggests daily testing instead of self-isolation for contacts from SARS-CoV-2 cases

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is far from over as exploding cases are reported in many countries. Health professionals reiterate the importance of mitigating the spread of viruses.

One way to quickly identify people infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is through testing. From there, positive individuals are isolated to control the spread of the virus.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and Public Health England with NHS Test and Trace initiated a pilot study in which contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19 patients were given the option to self-isolate for 10 to 14 days or antigen testing for lateral -Flow devices to perform at home.

In the study, which appeared on the pre-print server medRxiv *, the researchers wanted to evaluate the acceptance and commitment to daily testing as an alternative to self-isolation. They found that daily testing is acceptable and can help maintain self-isolation.

Background of the study

In many countries that have managed to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, mass tests have been carried out and cases have been isolated immediately. It is important to identify carriers of the virus, especially close contact with positive patients, in order to reduce virus transmission.

In the UK, which is reporting rising cases, efforts to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have focused on isolating those who have symptoms of COVID-19 from those who test positive for the virus, and of close contacts.

While these are practical measures, they can place a significant burden on the people involved. Self-isolation can affect people emotionally, socially, financially, and psychologically.

If people are marked as close contacts from a positive SARS-CoV-2 case, they must self-isolate for 10 days. This means that they can only leave their home for medical appointments.

Finding a better way to identify infected close contacts can help reduce the time it takes to self-isolate.

An alternative to self-isolation is to have close contacts undergo a daily coronavirus test with a lateral flow device. If the test result is negative, the person can continue their daily activities, including running errands, for 24 hours, provided they adhere to infection control measures. For a positive result, the person must immediately self-isolate for 10 days.

When used properly, the method could reduce the need for testing and reduce the total number of days people spend in self-isolation.

The study

In the study, researchers evaluated a pilot study that included an online cross-sectional study of close contacts among COVID-19 patients. Individuals were invited to take part in seven days of daily antigen testing as an alternative to self-isolation.

Preference for daily tests or self-isolation according to isolation groups

Preference for daily tests or self-isolation according to isolation groups

The team wants to investigate whether offering daily tests would motivate positive COVID-19 patients to provide details on more contacts for testing and follow-up, understand the most common reasons for accepting daily tests, and assess levels of compliance and compliance Guidelines during self-isolation.

To arrive at the study results, the team used a comparison group of contacts who were not offered daily tests and who had self-isolated. They rated the survey responses of those who participated in the pilot study and completed the questionnaire.

They found that participants accepted the idea of ​​daily testing. About 52 percent of respondents said that if they received a positive result, they would be more likely to report details of people they had contact with if they knew their contacts would receive a selection of daily tests.

In addition, 19 percent of participants said they left the house on the days they tried to self-isolate. After a negative result, 13 percent of those surveyed said they would increase their contacts, 58 percent said they had less risky contacts.

The study results indicate that daily tests may be acceptable. That way, people who test positive for COVID-19 are ready to report all of their contacts and details, knowing that daily testing will be offered instead of 10-14 days of self-isolation.

Although the results are promising and can help promote adherence to self-isolation, some people may misinterpret receiving a negative test result. Proper dissemination of information is therefore essential to ensure that people can continue to comply with public health measures.

“Future research should examine attitudes and behavior in a context where infection rates are lower, tests are more familiar, much of the population has been vaccinated, and activity restrictions have been reduced,” the team explained.

To date, the total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has exceeded 120 million. Approximately 2.65 million people have died and 68 million have recovered.

* Important NOTE

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

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