1.‘False negative’ coronavirus tests are a concern

  • What is ‘false negative’ coronavirus test?
  • Why do ‘false negative’ tests occur?
  • What is the protocol for recovered patients?
  • What is the discharge policy for COVID-19 cases in India?

UPSC can list these Questions under

GS paper 2 (Issues related to health, education and Human Resources.)

What is the context about this article?

  • There has been concern about the manner in which some COVID-19 patients have apparently relapsed.
  • Only days after testing negative, they have been confirmed positive a second time.
  • In Pune, a woman in her sixties tested negative, then fell critically ill with the infection three or four days later, and subsequently died.

What is ‘false negative’ coronavirus test?

qDoctors do not rule out the possibility that these patients had not rid themselves of the virus in the first place, but the virus didn’t show up in the tests. This is called “false negative”.

Why do ‘false negative’ tests occur?

  • No lab test is 100% accurate, says virologists.
  • The tests based on detection of genetic material are very sensitive, but yes sometimes are negative.
  • It can be because the swab was not taken right or the test was run badly, or sometimes simply because the virus may shed in different amounts, and was not there in the nose at that time.

What is the protocol for recovered patients?

  • As per this protocol, recovered patients are required to stay in isolation for up to 14 days, they should take their temperature readings daily and should note the development of any respiratory symptoms.
  • Several reports have pointed out that recovered cases can test positive for COVID-19 again.
  • The protocol also mentions the setting up of plans by designated hospitals for patients’ return visits and re-testing.

What is the discharge policy for COVID-19 cases in India?

  • According to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), if the laboratory results for the virus for suspect cases are negative, the discharge of such patients is guided by the clinical condition of the case. Such patients are monitored for 14 days.
  • On the other hand, a COVID-19 patient is discharged after evidence of chest radiographic clearance, viral clearance in respiratory samples and if two of the patient’s specimens test negative within a period of 24 hours.