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As more cases of the novel coronavirus are being confirmed across the country and in Maine, many people are wondering if they have the virus and what to do if they test positive. Here is a quick primer on those questions based on guidance from both the United States Center for Disease Control and Maine Center for Disease Control.
Do I have symptoms associated with the virus?
Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, difficulty breathing and in some cases, a sore throat. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
If I’m experiencing these symptoms, now what?
If you are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, call your medical care provider or a hospital in advance to set up an appointment. Calling ahead will help the health care provider take steps to prevent other people in the office or facility from being exposed or infected.
Based on your symptoms and criteria such as travel history or potential exposure to an infected person, a medical provider will work with the Maine CDC to determine whether or not you need to be tested for the virus.
Maine health officials noted Friday that the list of criteria for testing is changing rapidly to make sure that everyone who needs to be tested is tested.
Should you self-quarantine?
People should also self-quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to China, Iran, South Korea or Europe, starting as soon as they return home, even if they aren’t experiencing symptoms. Anyone that has come into contact with a person that has a known or suspected case of COVID-19 should also quarantine. A person that is experiencing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 should consider self-quarantine, even if they have not come into contact with the virus.
Anyone who has been tested and awaiting results should also self-quarantine.
If I test positive, what are the next steps?
Most people who are mildly ill with the virus are able to recuperate at home. The patient should stay isolated in their homes, except to receive medical care.
If recovering at home, the infected person should stay in one room and use a separate bathroom if possible. They should distance themselves from other people in the home and wear a mask if they need to be near them.
If your illness worsens, including an increased difficulty in breathing, call your doctor. People with more severe cases of coronavirus, or who experience worsening symptoms, may have to be treated in a hospital.
What does a negative test mean?
If you are tested for COVID-19 and the test comes back negative for the virus, it means COVID-19 is likely not causing your current illness. If your test is negative, there will not be any movement restrictions placed on you, but like with any illness, the Maine CDC suggests staying home until you feel better.
When to discontinue isolation?
People with confirmed cases of coronavirus should stay under home isolation until the risk of transmitting the virus to others is low. The decision to discontinue home isolation should be made in consultation with your doctor and state health agencies.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease