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Difference Between PCR and Rapid Testing

The PCR testing has been deemed the more precise form of COVID-19 testing as opposed to the rapid testing. Dr. Diaz-Musa differeciated between the two in our interview with her today.

Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Acting Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Wellness:In terms of the rapid testing the rapid test that is being utilized here and all over the world it’s very sensitive so if you’re positive there is a very very high chance that it’s correct you are positive. Now if you’re negative that’s the gray area that we want people to understand, if the test comes back negative it’s telling me that there is still a chance that I could possibly be positive provided that I do have symptoms, I’m considered a close contact so it’s not as specific. So what we do and what we’re recommending that – and also let me just put in here it depends as well when you do the test. The test is best done at a certain window period so if you were just exposed this morning and go this afternoon to do the test we wouldn’t consider that a true negative if you come back negative especially if you do have symptoms or if it’s a close contact so somebody living in your house or working with you eight hours a day etc. So if you are negative and you are a close contact and you are also symptomatic we will encourage you to continue to isolate, you should not return to work, you should not get that false sense of security that you are negative and then we go on to run a PCR which is the gold standard test. So the PCR at that point you’ve got to stay at home and wait for your results of the PCR, once the PCR is negative then we would say yes you are negative. And a lot of people say I did a test and it’s negative and then they call me back to say that I’m positive so clearly we’ve got to ensure that persons know that if you are negative and you are symptomatic and close contact it’s not a true negative please continue to practice very strongly our public health measures and continue to isolate until you get the PCR results.”