CDC Launches Online Tool to Self-Check Coronavirus Infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a new interactive tool that can help you guide through coronavirus illness, if you suspect you have it. The self-checker tool is named Clara. It was launched by the CDC Foundation in collaboration with Microsoft Azure. The system helps everyone who is currently residing in United States.

The CDC bot was launched with the aim of retrieving some of the pressure off the medical providers in time of this pandemic. There has been increasing demand for coronavirus testing in the country as the number of cases is getting higher and higher each day. The truth is that health care providers just do not have enough tests for everyone, though testing capabilities are rising as more companies are launching quick antibody diagnostic tests for coronavirus each day.

Due to the current circumstances, CDC has launched this bot to help people make decisions about seeking proper medical care when needed. The bot does not provide or possess the ability to diagnose cases or offer medical treatment or advice.

Clara is easy to use is available on the CDC website. The tool helps you reach a decision about seeking medical treatment by going through a list of questions like what symptoms you have at the time, whether you have pre-existing medical conditions or not, or if you were in contact with someone who has the COVID-19.

Based on your answers the bot can assist you in whether you should seek immediate attention, stay home and take care of yourself, go to the emergency department, or call your medical provider in cases of worsening symptoms.

What to Look out for

It is important that you understand the stages of coronavirus disease, so that you may know if you have the infection and when you absolutely need medical attention. There are four distinct forms of the disease. Here is what you should know:

  • Asymptomatic: Some people show no symptoms at all.
  • Mild: Some people may have slight fever and coughing. It might feel like a flu at this stage.
  • Severe: Some people may develop serious symptoms, like trouble breathing, persistent pain or tightness in chest and coughing up of blood. They need medical attention especially oxygen therapy at this stage.
  • Critical: Some people may develop serious illness with confusion, inability to arouse, bluish lips and face, where they have to be put on a ventilator. It can prove fatal, especially for people with pre-existing conditions or of old age.
Source: Cleveland Clinic

Coronavirus Testing

Who should be tested and who should not get tested keeps changing with time. Though how or when anyone is tested is dependent upon public health policies of every state, CDC does offer some guidance on who should be given priority while testing:

  • People who are admitted to the hospitals with any disease will be tested to ensure no infections spread through the hospital. All medical staff who display any kind of symptoms of the COVID-19 will be given priority.
  • People who are at increased risk and have symptoms like old age and first responders will also be given priority.
  • People who are essential workers like infrastructure worker and health care workers will also be given priority. People displaying symptoms from neighborhoods with high number of cases would also be preferred while testing.
  • People with no symptoms are not a priority.
Source: CDC

What to Expect in a Coronavirus Test

Right now, two kind of tests are being performed. One is RT-PCR which checks for active infections and the other are new antibody tests that check your blood for both active and previous infections. The antibody tests are always used together with RT-PCR to confirm a diagnosis. However, RT-PCR alone can be used to diagnose a case. In RT-PCR, a sample is taken from the nose or back of your throat, using a swab. This is where the virus is replicating, so that’s where a sample is taken. The sample is then put into a solution that releases the cells containing the virus. This virus is then replicated and detected with the help of an assay.

The personnel who take the sample use personal protective equipment, owing to their increased exposure to people who might have the disease. They wear gloves, gowns, masks and face shields. The swab is usually inserted through your nose and is often uncomfortable and a little painful.

On the other hand, the antibody test usually is done just like any other blood test. A slight prick on the finger, and you are done in many cases.

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