Chief Medical Officer explains testing procedure for quarantined individuals
(Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 10, 2020 – SKNIS): Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws has assured residents of St. Kitts and Nevis that persons currently in quarantine will be tested for COVID-19 before the 14-day period ends.
Take, for instance, the 51 students from St. Kitts and Nevis recently repatriated from Jamaica. The students are quarantined in a government facility and are in regular contact with health professionals.
“They were not tested immediately upon returning into the federation because if we had done so the students would have to be subjected to about two or three samples and tests,” Dr. Laws stated on Sunday (May 10) during the National Emergency Operations Centre COVID-19 Daily Briefing.
The tests using the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) involves placing a swab deep into a patient’s nose. Dr. Laws prepared the students for the test, warning that it’s not painful but can be somewhat uncomfortable. As such, testing is done toward the end of the quarantine period.
More importantly, Dr. Laws added that early testing might produce a result that can be misleading.
“If we test them on day one or day two and the sample is negative that does not mean that they are negative,” Dr. Laws stated. “In another two, three, four or five days if you were to resample and test, that sample can come out positive and so based on the foregoing I want to state that a negative RT-PCR test result during the quarantine period does not shorten the period of time the individual has to remain in quarantine.”
The World Health Organization reports that the incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, however, it can be up to 14 days.