Is False Negative the Culprit?

As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) the correct procedure for a person with Covid-19 symptoms after having RAT Negative result, should by and large be tested sequentially by RT-PCR or TrueNat whereas a positive result should be considered a true positive.

In a span of just one week two particular Covid-19 death diagnosis in Ukhrul came out Negative before both patients eventually breathed their last in a span of days after the presumably False Negative — Post death Covid-19 diagnosis came out Positive for both.

This is proving to be an unnerving experience and has certainly pushed the needle to question the level of protocol and accuracy of handling Covid-19 diagnosis in Ukhrul district. The district healthcare at the moment uses 90-95% Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

While RAT or Antigen testing reduces the turn around time and also because it’s inexpensive compared to TrueNat or RT-PCR tests, on the other hand, TrueNat or RT-PCR is more expensive, which cost anywhere between Rs 1100-1500, time consuming and need a highly professional staff.

However the flip side is that many experts have concerns about relying solely on Antigen tests. “Too much reliability on rapid antigen tests that show a lot of false negatives is a questionable thing, and I think the government may have to reconsider it,” a senior pulmonologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who asked not to be named, told DW.

Ukhrul has only one TrueNat machine which is constantly falling short of test kits for accurate Covid-19 diagnosis.

As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) the correct procedure for a person with Covid-19 symptoms after having RAT Negative result, should by and large be tested sequentially by RT-PCR or TrueNat whereas a positive result should be considered a true positive.

If these vital instructions by ICMR are not implemented properly, this is has serious medical consequences!

Hence the pertinent question to ask is why has RT-PCR test being done from valley labs stopped in Ukhrul?

This needs immediate fixing as this also could result in the authorities missing many infections. In a span of few days, the infected, asymptomatic, undetected people through RAT will likely spread the virus to others thinking they are healthy.

The authority in hill districts should take serious note of the issue at hand and press the state government to provide full circle of medical assistance required especially in hill districts. Beginning with logistics for RT-PCR test results done from the valley, similar to 2020, if additional facility for TrueNat or RT-PCR lab cannot be installed at the earliest in Ukhrul and Kamjong districts, or for that matter in all hill districts.

The locals has no funding to transport to-and-fro from Ukhrul to Imphal to carry RT-PCR test kits. This has to be on the state.

Also read: Covid Vaccination Conundrum in Ukhrul and Kamjong Districts

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