On Tuesday morning, singer Kanika Kapoor shared a post on Instagram stating that she hopes she tests negative for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, as she misses her family and kids.
Kapoor's is one of the 1,000-plus people in India that have tested positive for COVID-19. India has aldrady witnessed 29 deaths so far.
But why does Kapoor have to undergo so many tests? Dr Deepak Chaturvedi explains that it is part of standard procedure "She will be tested until her first negative test is determined. Following this, she will have to be in isolation for a while, as sometimes there are chances of a false negative case coming. In this case, she will have to undergo one more test to check if she is really negative, following which she will be removed from isolation."
Most labs use a method called the reverse transcriptase polymerise chain reaction (PCR). In these tests, the technician will first take your swab and then extract the viral genetic material. Usually these genetic cases are accurate, but there have been reports coming out of China of many false negative and positive cases. As a result, in order to not take any chances, Indian docotors are ensuring patients stay quarantined, so that they do not get a relapse once tehy are discarged.
However, it's not just the COVID-19 positive cases that require monitoring. According to this report in Singapore publication Today, some people are not diagnosed early because the initial symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to flu or common cold. Quoting a doctor, the report said that the initial test may not be accurate because the viral material available in the sample will be too little for the test to detect COVID-19. However, if the patient's condition worsens, chances are s/he will test positive for COVID-19, whch is why patients have to undergo multiple tests.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown as part of India's plan to battle coronavirus.
The centre has meanwhile allocated Rs 15,000 crore for medical facilities. “This will be used to increase isolation wards, ICU beds, medical beds, and medical and paramedical manpower,” the PM said, adding that states have been working hard, along with the private sector to focus on the healthcare sector.