Testing yourself before your holiday party, is it effective?

Se test before your holiday party, is it effective?

Little cough, stay home? Give the late Queen Elizabeth a vintage kiss, hug or greeting to family members? Wear the mask while shouting Céline Dion's “It's all coming back to me now” with the cousins? Organizing a small, medium or large New Year's party? Now, after three years of the pandemic, it will (finally) be possible to celebrate the holiday season without restrictive health restrictions. However, a new epidemiological context raises its share of questions.

Public health experts and other scientists have been working to answer them to dispel anxiety during the festivities. Métro wonders: performing rapid tests before each holiday gathering, is it effective?

Nimâ Machouf, epidemiologist, indicates:

“Repeated tests do no harm, but if we have been in contact with people who had Covid, it is not the next day that we will become positive. It's about the third day that you have to test yourself to know if you're positive or not. If we are positive, we avoid walking everywhere and going to visit people.

The rapid tests we have are just to screen you for Covid, so it won't detect the other viruses that are currently in circulation. The incubation period of other viruses is shorter, so normally when you are symptomatic, you put others at risk of catching our virus.

Roxane Borgès Da Silva, Professor and Director of the Department of Management, Evaluation and Health Policy at the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal (ESPUM), add:

“Doing more prevention has never hurt anyone. If I don’t have symptoms, I don’t have to get tested, but it won’t hurt me to get one. We know that there are some people who can be asymptomatic, although these cases are much rarer than you might think. There are fewer asymptomatic people than symptomatic people.

However, there is another type of situation to mention: if you recover from a sore throat or a cold. There are people who have a cold that goes away after 24-48 hours, test themselves and find they are Covid positive and stay positive for 5 days. So just because you don't have any more symptoms doesn't mean you're no longer contagious.”

Benoît Mâsse, professor at ESPUM in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, concludes:

“When you have no symptoms, the test is often likely to be negative. If you declare negative, it is not a guarantee that you do not have Covid. Those are really the symptoms to watch out for and that's where you're most contagious.

Instead of testing yourself every day, the best thing you can do for prevention is to wear mask as much as possible when shopping. This week, go to the SAQ or the grocery store with your mask on to make sure you can attend family gatherings. If you have other meetings or find yourself in a public place, at the arena with the children for example, wear the mask. I think it's more effective than testing yourself every day. You also protect yourself against influenza.”

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