As community restrictions lift, a COVID-19 clinic GP says sufferers should be tested twice before getting the all clear.
As community restrictions lift, a COVID-19 clinic GP says sufferers should be tested twice before getting the all clear.

Doctor says two virus tests needed for the all clear

ANYONE who tested positive for the coronavirus should be retested twice before being given the all clear to leave self-isolation, a Brisbane community COVID-19 testing clinic director has said.

Health Hub Morayfield director Dr Evans Jones said it might not be Queensland Health protocol to retest positive patients before they were given the all clear to leave isolation but "that's the safest response".

Queensland Health confirmed it does not require retesting for anyone who has tested positive to the coronavirus and that healthcare providers "will advise when an individual is no longer infectious and can come out of isolation".

Dr Jones said "we will ask those who have tested positive to come back in to be tested and we require two negative tests before you are regarded as non-infective".

"We know that it (the virus) might stop shedding from the nose and mouth but it sheds from the gastrointestinal tract for at least 28 days," Dr Jones said.

"They need to have negative tests. Yes they should isolate for 14 days and then be retested from a respiratory point of view and have two negative tests before they are regarded negative."

The Queensland Health spokesman said "the self-quarantine duration of 14 days is based on advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which currently estimates that the incubation period of COVID-19 ranges from one to 14 days, with a median incubation period of five to six days."

"COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus."

The News asked Queensland Health if the virus could shed beyond 14 days including from the gastrointestinal tract for up to 60 days.

The spokesman said the COVID-19 virus "spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it's important individuals practise respiratory etiquette and good hygiene".

They did not respond to questions about gastrointestinal spread.

Dr Jones also urged caution as community restrictions eased.

"It is my personal opinion that we should start testing asymptomatic people but that must be in conjunction with the State and Federal Health authorities," he said.

"But yes, that is my personal opinion."

 

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

 

Is more than one test required to be clear whether patients do or don't have the virus?

The tests we are using do have some error. There have been cases where they (patients) might have been clear in one test and then tested again and test positive. Our tests are not 100 per cent. We know there is an error rate. We need to do two tests to make sure people are clear.

What do we know about people's antibodies and the virus?

At the moment the people who first got this have only had antibodies for fourth months and we don't understand fully yet how they clear from people and in the population. There is a lot of work around that at the moment.

Can people become reinfected with the virus?

That is a possibility. At the moment this virus has only been around for four or five months and we are only starting to understand things about how it acts in populations. Responsible scientific officers are cautious about what immunity might look like and how long it might last and indeed if/when we get a vaccine how effective would it be and how long would it last for.

If someone tests positive, self isolates and then later re-experiences symptoms should they return for testing?

They should come back and be retested.

Does the virus shed and for how long?

We know the virus might stop shedding from the nose and mouth but it sheds from the gastrointestinal tract for at least 28 days. Provided people have good hygiene, shedding from the gastrointestinal tracts should not be a real issue. It might be a concern if a baby had the illness and you were having to change nappies; so you would need to take more care. These are all areas we are trying to understand more about.

Who should be coming to the respiratory clinic for testing now?

Anyone with a cough, cold, sniffle. Even though it might seem minor, come in and have a COVID-19 test. It's free.

How are people in Moreton Region coping?

Most people are coping pretty well. We have a huge demand for mental health services normally in this region but there is (currently) no dramatic uptick. But we haven't been in long lock downs as we have seen overseas.

Does the respiratory clinic have capacity to see more people and is it safe to come in?

Yes. And we have a dedicated respiratory clinic so it is safe.

Should I have a flu shot?

We would really encourage everyone to have their flu shot this year, whether you are elderly, young or have chronic illness.

Do people need to be retested after testing positive?

Yes people should self-isolate for 14 days and then be retested. They should have two negative tests before they are regarded as negative.

 

Originally published as GP speaks out: Two tests needed for the all clear



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