Getting a PCR (nose and throat swab) test

This is an Easy Read fact sheet about taking a COVID-19 PCR test.

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The NSW Government wrote this guide. 
When you see the word ‘we’, it means the 
NSW Government.

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We wrote this guide in an easy to read way. 
We use pictures to explain some ideas. 

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We have written some words in bold

This means the letters are thicker and darker.

We explain what these words mean.

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You can ask for help to read this guide. 
A friend, family member or support person 
may be able to help you. 

What is a PCR test?

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PCR (nose and throat swab) test is a way to check if you have COVID-19.

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You can get a PCR test at a: 

 

  • hospital

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  • testing clinic.

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A health care worker does the test for you.

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A PCR test is different to a rapid 
antigen test. 

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A rapid antigen test is a fast way to check 
if you have COVID-19.

 

You can do a rapid antigen test at home.

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We have Easy Read information about rapid 
antigen tests on our website.
 

When should you get a PCR test?

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Some people are at high risk of getting very 
sick if they have COVID-19.

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You are at high risk of catching COVID-19 if 
you are: 

 

  • aged 60 or over

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  • pregnant

an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 35 or over

 

  • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 35 or over.

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You are also at high risk if you:

 

  • have serious health problems 

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  • have a disability

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  • live in an aged care home – a place where older people live

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  • live in a place where people with disability get care for their disability

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  • haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine.

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A vaccine is a medicine that:

 

  • helps people fight a virus if they come into contact with it

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  • can stop people from getting very sick from the virus

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  • can stop you from passing the virus to someone else.

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You should get a PCR test if you:

 

  • are at high risk of catching COVID-19

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  • have symptoms

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A symptom is a sign that you might be sick.

You might:

  • see symptoms
  • feel symptoms.

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We have Easy Read information about
COVID-19 symptoms on our website.


https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/support/easy-read/symptoms

 

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You can do a rapid antigen test if you:
 

  • are not at high risk of catching COVID-19
  • have symptoms.

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But you can get a PCR test if:

 

  • you don’t have rapid antigen tests at home

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  • rapid antigen tests said you don’t have COVID-19 but you still have symptoms.

What happens when you get a PCR test?

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A health care worker will do the PCR test 
for you.

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The health care worker will take a swab from 
inside your:

  • throat

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  • nose.

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A swab is a long stick with cotton on the end.

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The test might be a bit uncomfortable.

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It might make:

 

  • you cough or sneeze

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  • your eyes water.

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It will be over quickly.

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The health care worker will tell you:

 

  • what you must do next

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  • when you will get your results.

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You will get your test results in a text 
message to your phone.

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You can ask the health care worker to send 
your results to someone you trust, like a:
 

  • family member
  • carer.

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You should stay at home until you receive your test result.

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Stay home so that you don't infect other people, if you have COVID-19.

Where can you get a PCR test?

illustration of a hospital

You can get a PCR test at a:

 

  • hospital

drive through pcr test

 

  • COVID-19 testing clinic.

older man in car at drive through clinic

You can also get a PCR test in your car at 
a drive through testing clinic.

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You can find a COVID-19 clinic near you on 
the NSW Government website.

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On the NSW Government website, you must:

 

  •  enter your postcode

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  • choose the type of COVID-19 clinic you want to go to.

Support for you

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You can call the National Coronavirus 
Helpline to find a testing clinic that is:

 

  • close to where you live

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  • easy for you to use. 

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You can call the Service NSW COVID-19 
Helpline.


13 77 88

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For more advice on how to stay safe and prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19, visit nsw.gov.au

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