PCR-Test Used To Test Persons For Covid-19 Does Not Test For Flu; Flu-like Symptoms Cannot Be Considered Covid-19 Until Positive Test – Dr. Wilkinson

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 21, 2022 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Health has undertaken a mass education and awareness campaign in an effort to inform members of the general public about everything COVID-19 related, noting the importance of credible information given the disinformation and misinformation in society.

During the January 19, 2022 NEOC COVID-19 press briefing, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital (JNF), Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, clarified an issue related to the effectiveness of the PCR-Test as a tool for testing persons for COVID-19.

“The PCR-Test is highly sensitive, which means that if you have the Coronavirus multiplying in your nostrils and the sample is taken it will pick it up, even if you have a very low viral load. It is also highly specific, which means that once you are told you have COVID-19, you do have COVID-19 based on a positive test. However, I have said before that a positive test is as good as the time that it was taken. So, a person could come now, have a test and test negative and you are truly negative. You can then leave this room and go outside and pick up the virus and come down with symptoms sometime later on. So, just because you tested negative does not necessarily mean that you have to drop your guard. Also, in this wave where we know that the predominant virus responsible for the flu-like symptoms would be the Coronavirus, one can still have the flu. So, you could have flu-like symptoms, do a PCR-Test and it is negative,” said Dr. Wilkinson.

During the carnival season and the beginning of the New Year, hundreds of persons across the Federation complained about suffering from flu-like symptoms. The Ministry of Health has since sent samples for testing and has confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant as the source of the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in the Federation.

Dr. Wilkinson was also asked during the NEOC press briefing about the ability of the PCR-Test in differentiating between the common flu and COVID-19 since several persons have been sharing misinformation on social media regarding the same issue.

“The flu is caused by an influenza-type virus and one can do testing for that. The COVID-19 is caused by the Coronavirus and we use the PCR-Test for that. So, those are two completely different tests and so if you test positive with the PCR-Test which is done specifically for the Coronavirus, you have Coronavirus. It is not going to tell you are positive for Coronavirus and it was supposed to be the flu,” said Dr. Wilkinson.

The Ministry of Health continues to work assiduously to encourage all persons living within the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis who can be vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so.

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