Kampala, Uganda | AFRICATEMBELEA | Is a negative PCR test a guarantee for absence of the coronavirus in one’s body? This is a question that has of recent been baffling health workers with increasing rates of patients reportedly with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and yet have negative test results.
Dr. Rosemary Byanyima, the Deputy Executive Director Mulago Specialized National Referral Hospital says they have received patients with a negative test even as they are really sick. She said whenever they have conducted further scan tests on those individuals, they have found them to have pneumonia that is associated with the viral respiratory disease.
Because of this, Dr Byanyima says loss of smell and taste have been labelled as almost diagnostic of the disease.
Urging health workers across the country not to turn away such patients, Dr. Rose Muhindo, the lead physician for the COVID-19 pandemic says that both Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have now allowed health workers to use symptoms of the viral respiratory disease to enroll them on treatment in their case definition guidelines.
She says with the increase in infections, they are encouraging health workers to be keen on symptoms not only to control transmission but also save patients from death by enrolling them on appropriate treatment.
However, commenting on this, Dr. Hassan Sharif, a medic at Kiruddu hospital said while they are increasingly seeing such patients in hospitals, it’s challenging for them to refer them to COVID-19 treatment units since the requirements for referral dictate that one must have confirmatory test results first.