With the new round of restrictions in place, and COVID numbers climbing, most of us have started to worry about the possibility of getting infected. But, what do we do if we actually start experiencing symptoms? How and where do we get tested in Bucharest?

We reached out to the AISB’s doctor Anita Pop, and spoke to staff members who recently got tested, to give you all the answers.

What Tests are Available?

Currently, there are two types of tests available in Bucharest. The viral test, also known as the PCR test (Polymerase Chain Reaction Test), tells you if you have a current infection. While undertaking this test, the doctors will use a swab to take a sample from your nose which will help them identify whether you are positive or not. According to Queensland Health, “The COVID-19 test shouldn’t be painful, but it can be uncomfortable.” At Romanian private hospital Regina Maria, the Coronavirus PCR test is 390 lei (80 euros), and they provide the test results within 48 hours of the test.

Another option is the antibody test, which tells you if you have already had an infection. Doctors will have your blood tested for virus antibodies. This test may take longer than the PCR test. Some side effects of drawing blood could be lightheadedness, bruising, rash and the applied bandage may cause some skin irritation. The antibody test at Regina Maria Hospital costs 160 Lei (32.8 euros). 

How Do I Know Which Test to Take?

If you are experiencing common symptoms of the coronavirus, which include fever, dry coughs, and tiredness, you need to take a PCR/Viral test. If you want to know about possible past infections, take an antibody test.

Coronavirus immunity still seems to be a mystery, although an article from The New York Times suggests that it is possible, because “disease-fighting antibodies such as B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved.” However, there is no evidence to prove how long this immunity may last.

Where to go and what it’s like

According to Dr. Pop, there are a handful of medical facilities (both public and private) that you can go to to get tested for the coronavirus in Romania. In order to be qualified to perform testing, these centers need to have a license issued by the Romanian Health Ministry.

Third grade teacher Cara Killham was recently tested at a Regina Maria facility in Bucharest (which has the license, and is the preferred center for most AISB faculty). Before being tested, Killham mentioned how stressed she and her family were; however, the actual experience was nowhere near as painful or worrying as expected.

“The doctors were very respectful during the testing,” says Killham. “They explained what the tests were and what would happen.” She praises the cleanliness and the safety of the procedures in the clinic and says that the results came faster than expected, arriving within the next day, via their website.

Secondary Humanities and Geography Teacher Jacqueline Whitney also had a recent testing experience, but opted for a drive-through center, operated by a private clinic in Bucharest called OK Medical.

“We went as a family,” says Whitney. “There was a fair share of gagging, laughing, and joking. It’s not that testing for coronavirus is funny, because it’s not. It’s just that when you’re in a difficult situation, I tend to find the humor in things to help manage the fears. There we were, enveloped by women in hazmat suits, in what resembled some science fiction or dystopian scene in a movie. Growing up in the 80s, I had always wondered what it would be like on the set of E.T. Now I knew!”

Even though it might seem odd to get tested this way, Whitney ensured us that it’s definitely not something to be scared of, stating that “it’s extremely safe, professional… it’s like getting McDonald’s at the drive-through with a bit more gag.”

Things to Take Away from this Article:

1. Try to avoid testing in facilities that are not certified by the Romanian Health Organization.

2. The PCR test (or viral test) tells you if you have a current infection. The Antibody test tells you about an infection in the past.

3. If you test with Regina Maria or OK Medical, the PCR test costs 390 lei.

4. The Antibody test costs 160 lei and is only available at medical centers since it’s a blood test.

5. If the clinic or facility that you test in is professional and efficient, most of the time the test will be only slightly uncomfortable and lasts only a few seconds.

6. To make appointments at Regina Maria, call 021 9268. For the drive-thru option at OK Medical in Beneasa, you can just show up any time between 8am-10pm. (Click the links for address information.)

*Editing and additional reporting by Adi S.