The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) has responded to the accusation of a St. Lucian woman that she received a false positive result from a COVID-19 test done in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on July 19.

A St. Lucia media report said that a four-month pregnant woman travelled from St. Lucia to St. Vincent on July 19 and was tested for COVID-19 on arrival at Argyle International Airport.

Two days later, she was told her test yielded a positive result.

The report said that on July 27, the woman received word from health authorities in SVG that there was an error and the test for COVID-19 was, in fact, negative.

In a press release on Friday, NEMO said that its Health Services Subcommittee has noted, with concern, the allegations of the woman, aged 22, that local health authorities erred with her COVID-19 tests results.

Health officials in SVG had previously refused to give the age and gender of persons who test positive for COVID-19, saying that doing so could help to identify the patient.

NEMO quoted the woman as saying: “The Health Authorities have a mistake…. That it was a mistake. I never had COVID. I never had the virus in the first place. It must be a misunderstanding when they did the test at the airport,” the young lady was quoted as saying.

NEMO said that the St. Lucian woman was subjected to the required entry screening by port health officers on arrival at the AIA on July 19.

“This screening included a nasopharyngeal swab for a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test,” NEMO said, adding that the swab was sent to the CARPHA Public Health Laboratory in Trinidad on July 20, and a positive result was returned to the Health Services Subcommittee on July 21.

“The St. Lucian national was informed of the results of her test and advised to isolate at home as is the norm for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The St. Lucian Health Authorities were also informed, as required by public health protocols, and a copy of the CARPHA result was sent to them.

“As is normal in our multi-tiered verification process, a second PCR test was done on July 23, 2020 and another on the July 27. Both were sent to CARPHA for SARS-CoV-2 testing. Both were reported on July 29 as negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. The St. Lucian was informed of these results.”

NEMO said that the sequence of positive to negative PCR results for SARS-CoV-2 is “not unusual, as an individual may test positive at the end of their disease, so that subsequent tests are negative.

“Additionally, the absence of ‘sickness’ (symptoms) in a person who is COVID-19 positive is a well-established fact. The suggestion that the absence of symptoms proves that an individual does not have COVID-19 points to the urgent need for continuing education of individuals who hold these myths and misconceptions about COVID-19.” NEMO said.

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