TEST NEGATIVE FOR COVID-19 BUT STILL HAVE SYMPTOMS? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
You have obvious symptoms of COVID-19 fever, headache, dry cough, and fatigue but your rapid antigen test comes back negative.
You Are Not Alone
So if you test negative for RAT but still have symptoms, or if you need to record a positive RAT test result, here’s an update on what to do.
Can You Have COVID-19 And Test Negative?
Yes, a negative test does not guarantee that you do not have COVID-19 and there is still a possibility that you are contagious.
Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr John Williams advises anyone with symptoms of COVID who returns a negative RAT to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Pathology Technology Australia said rapid tests were more accurate at detecting when someone was infectious, while PCR tests could detect the virus even if someone had no symptoms.
Although RAT tests can detect the virus, they are most accurate when people have symptoms and are usually best used within the first seven days after symptoms appear.
The TGA says poor sample collection and misuse of the test will affect accuracy. Therefore, it is important to follow the sample collection instructions for your RAT test.
What To Do If You Are Negative On A Rapid Antigen Test And Still Have Symptoms
Access PCR tests, considered the gold standard when it comes to detecting COVID-19.
If your RAT test and PCR test come back negative for COVID-19, Dr. Williams says you probably don’t have COVID.
But there are other diseases, such as RSV and the flu, that have similar symptoms to COVID-19. He says that COVID has highlighted the need for us to take precautions to prevent the spread of all viruses.
Multiplex tests, or multiplex tests, are combined tests that detect influenza and COVID-19 in a single sample, and are available in most places with a referral from your GP or on PCR tests.
Regardless of your test results, if you’re experiencing Covid-like symptoms, Dr. Williams recommends following these guidelines until you get your final test results.
“So if you test negative while you have symptoms, wear a mask, maintain social distancing, let people around you know you have symptoms, and practice good hygiene with soap and water and Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”
What Does It Mean If A Rapid Antigen Test Is False Negative For COVID-19?
This means that the test did not detect the virus, even though you are indeed infected.
If a RAT has a clinical sensitivity of at least 80 percent, that basically means we can expect the test to be 80 percent accurate in detecting the infection, says Dr. Sonia Bennett, deputy medical director.
So if we line up 100 people infected with COVID, 20 might get a false negative result.
In this case, it is recommended that you:
Try again; Either
Find A PCR Test
According to Dr. Bennett, the PCR test is considered the gold standard when it comes to detecting COVID-19.
They detect the presence of nucleic acid, the genetic material of the virus, early in infection and sometimes even before a person becomes ill.
Although a positive RAT result is likely to be accurate.
Dr. Bennett says TGA has at least a 98 percent clinical specificity, and that means only 2 percent of RAT tests can produce false positives.
So you can be sure that if your RAT test comes back positive, you probably have COVID-19.
Manufacturers have defended the accuracy of the rapid tests against the new Omicron subtypes.
Last month, Pathology Technology Australia said rapid tests are more accurate at detecting when someone is contagious, while PCR tests can detect the virus even if someone has no symptoms.
How Long Can People Test Positive For COVID-19?
There is no hard and fast rule.
Some people continue to test positive with the RAT test for more than five days, and some continue to test positive after 10 days.
University of Sydney associate professor of epidemiology Meru Schell said the virus can remain in your body after the infectious period.
“You can have bits of the virus in your lungs and that can be detected when you do a PCR,” he said.
Because of viral shedding, some people may continue to test positive for weeks or even months after infection.
But a test is your best bet to determine if the virus is still in your system.
As for the contagiousness of the virus, people are generally considered contagious 48 hours before symptoms start.
In high-risk settings, symptoms can be considered contagious 72 hours before they start.
Do I Need To Record A Positive RAT Test Result?
In isolation, you can access your local health council and register your positive COVID-19 test result here:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern region
- Queen’s Lane D
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Do I Still Need To Self-Isolate?
Yes, as per Australian Public Health requirements, you must self-isolate for seven days.
Isolation is important to protect those around you who may not have COVID-19, and it also prevents it from spreading to others in the community, especially those who are vulnerable and if exposed. If they go, they may get sick.
Infectious disease experts, meanwhile, have emphasized the importance of getting boosters when eligible, ventilating indoor spaces, wearing masks indoors, and taking antiviral drugs as keys to combating the latest waves of infections. Research your qualifications.
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