One major fear as it relates to testing for COVID-19 is the matter of false negatives. This possibility is all too real, and can come as a result of things like rapid testing and testing too early. This is the reason that Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero stressed that even though a person may test negative for the virus, they must still remain in quarantine for at least 21 days and until they are cleared by the Ministry of Health. Dr Manzanero explained more about this on Love FM’s COVID-19 Update Show over the weekend.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “One of the questions we got asked is ‘Are you testing too early?’ The contacts of the patients who have been identified after we do our mapping and sometimes mappings are quicker so you sometimes by within twenty four hours you’d have done the state of all the close contacts, sometimes it takes a few days. Let me explain why that happens. In reality if you’re a close contact we’re going to swab you because recall that you can also be an asymptomatic carrier so we don’t know if any of the close contacts was actually positive before the actual identified case so it could be that you’re a close contacts are the ones who actually got you infected. It doesn’t mean that the case we identify is the one that is in point of fact- let’s say you have a person, let’s say in a home I live in a home of ten people and I show up at the hospital with a community acquired pneumonia I will go and swab everybody else because I don’t know if maybe the young child or the young adult who was the one out on the street is the one who became positive before I became positive and I showed up at the hospital so I need to go and verify your close contacts. So I need to go and verify your close contacts so if I find out that one of the ten is the one then the mapping exercise extends to that one person. So that’s how it routinely is done and understand also that the close contacts, not because you are negative means that you’re in the clear and you use two examples. One of the close contacts of patient number one was swabbed, they were negative. About a week later they started developing signs and symptoms they were swabbed again that was negative at the second swab, that means that person has the flu we’re not saying they don’t have the flu but it can be something else other than COVID-19, that person will be swabbed fourteen days after just to make sure that they still don’t have COVID-19. The particular case that we reported just earlier today is a similar situation it’s a close contact of a previously identified case, swabbed negative, one week later started developing signs and symptoms with a runny nose, loss of sense of taste, swabbed seven days later is now positive for SARS CoV 2. That’s how it is routinely done so when we do close contacts even though they’re asymptomatic we’re trying to identify any potential asymptomatic cases, that’s one. Two is if you have been a medium contact, if you start developing signs and symptoms then we would more than likely be swabbing you because we want to extend that exercise. Again, all the close contacts that are negative remember they are not in the clear, 21 days quarantine where that if any point in time they start developing signs or symptoms we will go in and swab.”.
Dr Manzanero also stated that there is no valid rapid tests in the country, and that if the public knows of any establishment claiming to do rapid testing, they should report it to the Ministry of Health.
Dr.Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “In terms of rapid tests we just got the preliminary note from PAHO where the gold standard remains PCR testing for SARS CoV 2 which is the virus and that is the test that is being done at Central Medical Lab so that in point of fact no rapid test has been approved for use in Belize.”