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COVID-19: Here's what you should do if you have symptoms but RT-PCR is negative

Moreover, experts have said that the test results may still be negative despite one having COVID-19. According to them, those showing symptoms must be treated without waiting for a confirmatory test to prevent aggravation.

COVID-19: Here's what you should do if you have symptoms but RT-PCR is negative
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There are many cases where patients showed coronavirus symptoms but tested negative on several occasions. However, after repeated testing, they were found to be positive, said doctors.

Moreover, experts have said that the test results may still be negative despite one having COVID-19. According to them, those showing symptoms must be treated without waiting for a confirmatory test to prevent aggravation.

The general perception of the doctors now is that a high degree of suspicion arising out of the clinical symptomatology and the CT scan reports should be the guiding factor for treatment rather than relying only on the RT-PCR test which has a sensitivity of only 70 per cent. It is also suggested that if RT-PCR is negative despite the symptoms and the symptoms persist, patients should have another RT-PCR test five to six days after the first test.

What is the RT-PCR test?

RT-PCR stands for Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction. In common parlance, this is called a 'swab test'. This test involves taking a swab (sample) through the nose or throat.

How is the test done?

According to experts, after taking a sample from the patient's nose or throat, the cotton swab is mixed into a tube containing the liquid. The fluid in this tube mixes with the virus on the cotton and stays alive. The sample is then taken to the laboratory for testing.

What causes reports to be negative?

  • If fluids are not used properly to keep the virus alive
  • When transporting swabs, the virus deteriorates if it stays at normal temperatures. Therefore, despite the symptoms, test reports do not come positive.
  • Sometimes people who go for swabs do not have proper training. This is also one of the reasons why the test is negative.
  • Failure to properly swab the patient
  • Due to improper transport of swab samples
  • If the patient drank water or ate something before the COVID-19 test, it is likely to affect the PCR test.
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