Covid-19 negative report gives false hope, don’t go out yet: Experts
The incubation period for Covid-19 is up to 14 days. And before that, a person can test negative and have no symptoms at all.Updated: Nov 19, 2020, 10:32 IST
Across the world, including India, people are in a midst of festivities with Chhath being celebrated and Thanksgiving approaching followed by Christmas in December. Even as people are learning to live with the pandemic, cases of the coronavirus disease are also exploding and more and more people are taking part in gatherings with Covid-19 negative certificates. But does it really guarantee that the person with a negative test result will not spread Covid-19?
Scientists do not agree with this at all and say that there is no guarantee that a negative report will be safe. Rather, they add, it creates false hope. Therefore, they say it is advisable that a person who has been exposed to Sars-Cov-2, the virus which causes the coronavirus disease, should still follow the mandated guidelines as a precautionary measure.
“You should not rely on test results alone to safely socialise in person. A test can only tell you if you are positive at a given moment in time, and can also fail to detect cases if you are infected but not yet shedding substantial virus,” Dr Angela Rasmussen, a virologist affiliated with Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
A person who has been exposed to the virus can take days to actually show symptoms of the viral disease. Experts say a test result could fail to detect the presence of the virus in the body if the exposed person is tested shortly after getting infected. The virus needs to reproduce enough copies of itself for it to be detected in the Covid-19 tests. The incubation period for Covid-19 is up to 14 days. And before that, a person can test negative and have no symptoms at all.
There is also a possibility that a person may contract the virus after getting the test done. Hence it is advisable for the exposed person to stay under quarantine for at least a week after exposure to the virus.
There are several types of Covid-19 tests that can be taken to confirm whether a person has contracted the coronavirus disease.
Antigen tests are rapid tests which give you results within an hour or so. They are performed with nasal swabs and look for the presence of a specific protein on the surface of the virus. As the person gets results within hours, they are widely being used to test asymptomatic persons. However, there is a high chance of getting a false negative report with a rapid antigen test.
Molecular tests are the RT-PCR tests which look for virus’ genetic material in the body. This test is performed with nasal swabs or throat swabs or both. RT-PCR tests are more credible but then it can take days to give you results.