Are we placing too much value on a negative test result?

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Multiple state governments only require people with respiratory symptoms to continue self-isolation if they test positive for COVID-19, despite the risk of false negatives.

Subject

Covid-19

False negatives

Infection control

Public Health

Period24 Jul 2020

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleAre we placing too much value on a negative test result?
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletNewsGP
    Media typeWeb
    CountryAustralia
    Date24/07/20
    DescriptionMultiple state governments only require people with respiratory symptoms to continue self-isolation if they test positive for COVID-19, despite the risk of false negatives...
    As a result, health authorities should not rely on a single test to clear someone of coronavirus, especially if they are deemed at high risk of having the disease, according to Associate Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC).

    ‘It is better for people who are symptomatic and might spread respiratory illnesses to self-isolate even if their COVID test is given the all clear,’ he told newsGP.

    ‘False negative tests are common if the test is done too early after a person has been exposed to infection. A negative test result could give a false sense of security and lead to someone inadvertently spreading COVID.’...

    Aside from stretching contract tracing capabilities, Associate Professor Mark Morgan said too many people not self-isolating could also place pressure on testing capacities.

    ‘People who catch coughs and colds have somehow been exposed to respiratory viruses indicating a failure of community social distancing and personal hygiene measures,’ he said.

    ‘It is not ideal to have people with infectious coughs and colds out and about in the community or in the workplace, because more and more people will need to go through testing.’
    Producer/AuthorMatt Woodley
    PersonsMark Morgan