Thermal Screening, Asymptomatic, RT-PCR: Quaranterms All Travellers Must Know

Whether you’re taking a train, boarding a plane or driving your car down the lane, travelling with quarantine requirements has become the new normal for us. But with quarantine come many quaranterms, and it is easy to confuse their meanings.

After all, what is the difference between a rapid antigen test and a RT-PCR swab test? What exactly happens in thermal screening? Hello, should we be adding a dictionary to our travel checklist?

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Worry not, because we are here to help you master some basic quaranterms so you can plan that staycation or go for that workation with ease. Let’s take a look:

>Symptomatic persons: People who are infected with the coronavirus and show visible signs such as cough, fever or difficulty in breathing.

>Asymptomatic persons: People who are infected with the coronavirus but show little/no symptoms.

>Influenza-Like Illness (ILI): Since some of the symptoms for covid-19 AND influenza are similar, many states prevent travellers with ILI from entering state borders. These symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose and tiredness.

>Institutional Quarantine: This means that a traveller may be quarantined at a government-approved facility under the supervision of the health officials.

>Home Quarantine: This means that a traveller can complete their quarantine period at home, but they need to be in a room separate from the rest of the family members.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation separates people who are sick with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Whereas, quarantine separates and also restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show any symptoms.

Different types of COVID-19 tests

>RT-PCR Test: This is the most commonly used test for COVID testing and can take upto a day to provide results . For this, a swab from the patient’s throat or nose is taken and tested. 

Advantage of this method – Accurate

>Antigen Test: This test gives results in just 30 minutes. For this, a swab from the patient’s nose is taken. However, the chances of falsely testing negative are high with this method. Therefore, if a person tests negative for coronavirus by this method, he/she should still get a RT-PCR test for confirmation. However, if the person tests positive by this method, no further tests need to be done.

Advantage of this method – Quick

>TrueNAT Test: This is a chip-based test that can give results in just half an hour. For this, a swab from the patient’s throat or nose is taken. This method is widely used in mobile testing centres in containment zones as a better alternative than having to transport samples to labs. 

Advantage of this method – Quick and portable

>Antibody Test: Also known as serological test, this testing method helps find out if a person has antibodies to the virus. This testing method cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19, but it can reveal whether a person was recently exposed to the virus. This method is useful to check whether a particular area has been exposed to the virus.

Advantage of this method – Useful for survey and research purposes

How does thermal screening work?

Cameras used for thermal screening show the heat emitted by a person as images. Thermal screening can help detect high body temperatures and identify even tiny differences in the heat and show it as different shades of any selected colour. 

Therefore, a person with fever passing through a thermal scanner will show a different colour shade as opposed to a healthy person and therefore can be immediately pulled aside for additional screening for the virus.

We hope that these quaranterms will help you avoid confusion the next time you travel. Don’t forget to share them with your friends and family!