Repeat negative RT-PCR test in 10 days doesn’t override first result, docs say

A negative finding of a repeat Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test for COVID-19 should not be a basis for reducing the number of days of a positive patient’s 14-day mandatory isolation, a Bacolod Public Information Office press release said.

The result of a subsequent COVID-19 test within 10 days from the initial test does not override the latter’s positive finding, the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) –Negros Occidental Chapter and the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) said.

“The isolation period should not be influenced by a repeat PCR test,” the group added.

“This is because the risk of exposing more individuals to possible infection when relying on a false negative repeat test is high,” PCP president Dr. Michael Thomas Salvador warned.

“Repeat testing may be done only in situations deemed as necessary by the attending physician”, he added.

The Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center Task Force (EOC-TF) sought medical opinion and clarification from the PCP and PSMID after a COVID-19 positive patient attempted to shorten her 14-day quarantine by getting a subsequent negative test result from a laboratory.

In their reply-letter dated December 3 addressed to EOC-TF deputy for medical Dr. Hector Gayares, the PCP officers said they were thankful that the EOC brought the matter to their attention. They reminded the public to remain vigilant and adhere to health protocols.

Dr. Edwin Miraflor, office-in-charge of the City Health Office (CHO), echoed the PCP and PSMID clarification.

Miraflor said the conflicting RT-PCR test results do not affect the reliability of the molecular laboratories.

“The molecular laboratory will just do the testing [when requested], but it [conflicting results of first and repeat tests] will not affect the reliability of the results. It depends on the matter of swabbing, handling of the specimen, and of when the swabbing was done,” Miraflor said.

He added: “The best time to swab is five to seven days after the exposure. If you are symptomatic, you can already be tested on the first day of the appearance of the symptoms.”*

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