Div Com orders retesting of symptomatic negative cases through RT-PCR

The divisional administration in Kashmir has directed all deputy commissioners and chief medical officers to ensure retesting of ‘symptomatic negative cases’ through RT-PCR to rule out false negatives.

The direction has come in view of reports that several covid19 symptomatic patients tested negative using ‘rapid antigen test kits’.

Sources informed that it has been found out that “in some cases symptomatic negative cases were not retested as a result of which some of them developed complications. It has come to the notice of the

administration which has directed the health department to ensure retesting using RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction).

Symptomatic negative cases are those where the patient has symptoms of covid19, but tests negative. Since rapid antigen tests are known to have high degree of false negatives, the ICMR had mandated that symptomatic negative cases must get a retest through RT-PCR.

“The divisional commissioner expressed displeasure over the fact that some of the RAT negative symptomatic cases are not being tested with RT-PCR and directed to conduct RT-PCR test of all such cases mandatorily,’ read a note of the minutes of the meeting chaired by the divisional commissioner Kashmir.

President, Doctors’ Association Kashmir, Dr. Nisar ul Hassan said “so far there is no test which gives 100 percent accurate results of COVID. Though RT-PCR is more sensitive than RAT, ultimately retesting of any patient having symptoms should be done on the call of a clinician. Doctor’s call on retesting is paramount as they could better judge after examining the symptoms; in some cases even doctors prescribe radio screening for patients who are having COVID symptoms.”

According to officials, the central government has also passed directions that all symptomatic negative cases of rapid antigen tests (RAT) must mandatorily take an RT-PCR retest for Covid.

The centre has directed all states to set up two teams each, at the level of the district and the state, to monitor and ensure that no potentially positive case is missed out.

In its advisory to states, the centre has reiterated ICMR’s guidelines that two specific categories of persons must get a retest through RT-PCR: all symptomatic negative cases of RAT; and asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within 2 to 3 days of being tested negative.

ICMR guidelines mandate compulsory retesting of symptomatic negatives in the backdrop of RAT’s sensitivity ranging from 50 per cent to 85 per cent, depending on the viral load of the patient. So, to rule out false negatives, where the patient may spread the infection, the ICMR has mandated that if any person develops symptoms days after he tests negative after RAT, that person should get an RT-PCR test.