The efficacy of COVID19 test is in question after a doctor of Bethany Hospital in Shillong tested negative, a day after he tested positive for the virus.

However, the Meghalaya government has allayed doubts over the efficacy of the test.

“The said doctor’s swab was taken on July 29, his report came out to be positive, after which, he was immediately taken from his residence to a Corona Care Centre for quarantine,” Bethany Hospital’s nodal officer and spokesperson Dr. Kyntiewlang Sanmiet said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“As instructed by the government, re-testing was done on July 30, and he tested negative,” Dr. Sanmiet added.

Sanmiet urged the public that there was no reason to panic in this regard while clarifying that the hospital was not shut down, and the OPD and all services are open.

“The said doctor has been on leave for more than a week till today.” Dr. Sanmiet said.

As per hospital protocol, any doctor or staff has to be tested for COVID-19 before resuming his/her duties for the safety of all patients and staff,” Dr. Sanmiet further stated.

Stating that COVID19 is a new virus and not much is known about it, Dr Sanmiet said there is a possibility that a person can be tested negative one day after being tested positive.

“That is why we appeal the public not to panic as recovery can happen after a day,” said the Bethany Hospital’s nodal officer.

“The said doctor is doing well and asymptomatic. We have gone over and above the necessary steps to ensure utmost patient safety and quality of care. COVID-19 prevention standards, like screening of all patients and visitors, physical distancing, issuing of masks and other protective equipment to all staff every day, daily disinfection and spraying of the hospital and all infection control measures are strictly enforced inside the hospital premises,” Dr. Sanmiet underscored.

He also informed that Bethany Hospital staff members were regularly tested to ensure no one is a COVID19 carrier and so far all were negative.

“As we move towards the new normal, be assured that we do our best continuously to deliver quality patient care. Your patience and support are much appreciated especially during these trying times,” Dr Sanmiet said while seeking people’s support.

Meghalaya’s first COVID19 patient, who died on April 15, was 69-year-old doctor, Dr John L Sailo Ryntathiang, and he was the director of Bethany Hospital.

Meanwhile, when quizzed about the doctor from Bethany Hospital, who tested negative one day after he tested positive for COVID19, DHS (MI), Dr Aman War said, “We stick by the test that had first come out positive.”

“But for us, it is good that the second test has come out negative, as it reduces the burden of contact tracing, and not much of a concern,” Dr War added.

However, Dr War said, the person has to be under quarantine and a retest would be again conducted after 14 days.

On the efficacy of the test, Dr War allayed doubts over the reliability of the machine (RT-PCR), adding that the timing of the test is also important.

“For this particular case, Truenat, antigen, apart from RT-PCR, tests have been conducted, but only the RT-PCR test at NEIGRIHMS showed positive,” Dr War said.

The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test is the most commonly used for confirming COVID19 positive cases.

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