‘Tested Negative Twice via Rapid Test, RT-PCR Showed I Had COVID’

Despite having symptoms of COVID-19, I tested negative twice in a rapid test.

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My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Video Producer: Maaz Hasan

What would you do if you have all the symptoms of COVID-19 and yet you test negative for the novel coronavirus? Would you take the test again? What will you do if you test negative a second time, but still have all symptoms? Would you take the test a third time?

This is what I had to do in Bengaluru. A loss of smell, taste, and difficulty in breathing prompted me to get tested for coronavirus on 11 September. My rapid test result was negative. I was happy and so was my family.

Unfortunately, the symptoms did not subside and I realised that I should get myself tested again, as rapid tests can throw false negatives.

A primary healthcare centre for COVID testing in Bengaluru.
A primary healthcare centre for COVID testing in Bengaluru.
(Photo Courtesy: Priyam Dutta) 

On 13 September, I went to Varthur Primary Healthcare Centre in Bengaluru and got tested again. It was negative, again. Regardless of what the result said, I wasn’t feeling normal or healthy. I then asked the doctor if I could get an RT-PCR test.

According to guidelines issued by the government, if symptomatic patients test negative via rapid test, a RT-PCR test needs to be administered for reconfirmation.
Priyam was tested negative twice.
Priyam was tested negative twice.
Screenshots of text messages sent by Karnataka government.

To my surprise (or lack thereof), the result was positive. I had tested negative twice before finally testing positive! Imagine if I had left my fate to the first test result.

RT-PCR test result showed that Priyam was coronavirus positive.
RT-PCR test result showed that Priyam was coronavirus positive.
(Image: Screenshot of text message sent by Karnataka government)
“I would have been a ‘super spreader’ in Bengaluru. I could have gone out, met my friends, gone to the market. I could have been be anywhere. So, I could have spread the virus everywhere.”

It was only because of my insistence that I got the correct result. The government should look into the matter urgently. A lot of public money is being spent on rapid testing but if it is not giving accurate results, it is a waste of resources.

‘Govt Should Reconsider Testing Methods’

To combat the spread of COVID-19, it is very important that we do complete contact tracing and we test in the correct way. Even after a very harsh lockdown, we have been unable to contain the spread of the virus. So, in these situations, we must reconsider our approach to fighting it.

A lot was said about the behaviour of the virus in India and asymptomatic cases were considered as a major challenge in containing its spread.

However, in my case, even after being symptomatic, I tested negative twice.

Therefore, it’s not only the asymptomatic patients that are turning up as a challenge but also the kind of testing that we have in place.

(Dr Nagesh from Varthur PHC confirmed to The Quint that if the COVID-19 symptoms prevail despite a negative rapid test, the patient can request a confirmatory RT-PCR test. A BBMP official also told The Quint that if the rapid test result is negative but symptoms prevail, the sample is re-tested via RT-PCR.)

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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