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Coronavirus: ministry says PCR is only valid test for detecting Covid

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Photo: CNA

The health ministry on Wednesday clarified for the public that the only valid test for detecting Covid-19 was the rtPCR test and not antibody or antigen rapid testing.

“The detection of antibodies against the virus with rapid testing is not used for primary diagnosis of Covid-19 infection,” the ministry said.

It emphasised that the antibody test, which involves taking a blood sample, detects only antibodies that the immune system develops in response to the virus, “that is, it does not detect the virus itself” .

It may take days to several weeks for several antibodies to develop that can be detected in a rapid test.

Antigen tests are done from nasal swabs. Those found positive during antigen rapid tests must subsequently undergo a PCR test for confirmation.

The ministry said that currently both the rapid antigen test and rapid antibody testing should be carried out only by health professionals and not by the public. Neither test is intended for self-diagnosis, the ministry said.

“It is also emphasised that the sampling process is potentially dangerous if health professionals are not trained in the proper sampling process and the safe application and removal of personal protective equipment,” it added.

Healthcare workers should inform the unit of epidemiological surveillance and control of infectious diseases about the positive result detected with rapid antigen testing, in order to start the tracing process.

“In addition, the healthcare professional should report to the epidemiological surveillance unit the name of the rapid antigen test used. It should be noted that rapid antibody test results should not be reported, as they are not a valid way to diagnose active Covid-19 infection.

For more information regarding the process of reporting positive results to the infectious diseases surveillance and infection control unit, health professionals can contact 1412.

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