Kerala cautious about asymptomatic carriers

PCR tests for random samples have turned negative: Minister

The State is cautious about the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has said.

“But since we have quarantined people aggressively and campaigned for social distancing, asymptomatic spread is likely to be limited.” Asymptomatic spread has been found in some through contact tracing, but there is no evidence of it yet in the community, the Minister told The Hindu on Thursday.

“We have been doing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for some random samples, cases that come to hospitals with fever and pneumonia symptoms, and have found them negative for COVID-19.”

Private hospitals have also sent some fever cases and cases with COVID-19-like symptoms to the government sector. Hence, the probability of missing out on cases is less, said Ms. Shylaja.

But at the same time it is not time yet to say that the virus has been reined in, the Minister said, adding the virus is new and it could mutate too.

Antibody test

Experts believe that the antibody test, a serological test to know whether there is a spread in the community, would help the government strengthen the surveillance. However, it is not a test that could give a cent per cent result, said Ms. Shylaja.

While PCR tests are most reliable, antibody test could give false negative too. But the advantage is that a lot of people could be tested, she said. The virus could mutate as in the case of viruses such as H1N1, said pulmonologist Tinku Joseph of the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences here.

He said there could be asymptomatic carriers which could not be assessed because of the lack of such testing facilities here.

Most countries now conduct these tests that would help ascertain whether there is a community spread or not, said Dr. Joseph, adding that widespread random tests are recommended at this stage.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 10:23:21 PM |

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