Repeat PCR testing is NOT required in order to de-isolate a patient and is not recommended

UBH Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Narcisius Dzvanga having a nasal swab taken for PCR testing recently at the hospital during the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Bulawayo.
The Claim: One has to have another PCR test after isolating to confirm if they have recovered from Covid-19.
The Verdict: claim verdict

Background: People believe one has to have another PCR test after isolating to see if they have recovered from Covid-19.

Health officials have said a repeat (Polymerase Chain Reaction) PCR test is not required in order to discharge a Covid-19 patient and is not recommended.

People who test positive for Covid-19 are isolated for 10 full days and the self – isolation period includes the day one’s symptoms started, or the day they tested (that is if they did not have symptoms.)

If one develops symptoms while they are self-isolating, the 10 days restarts from the day after the symptoms started.

This recommended isolation time is the period during which a patient is still considered infectious and after the 10 days one would have recovered, as it has been proven that in mild cases, Covid-19 infection was only present for about eight days.

However, some patients who have been in isolation for 10 days, believe they need to have another PCR test to confirm if they have recovered from Covid-19.

But health experts say a repeat test is unnecessary.

Divisional Environmental Health Officer in Charge of surveillance activities in Bulawayo’s Health Services Department, Nhlonipho Precious Sibanda told CITE that recommended isolation for patients who had contracted Covid-19 was 10 days in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations where someone was to recover in that period.

“We isolate someone without symptoms for 10 days then we de-isolate them according to WHO de-isolation regulations adopted in May 2020 and we are saying someone has recovered because they are no longer spreading to the next person,” she said.

“But you find that some people want to retest and complain that they are still positive. May they not bother to do so because it’s not adding to any science or value to science. You’ve been discharged.”

Divisional Environmental Health Officer in Charge of surveillance activities in Bulawayo’s Health Services Department, Nhlonipho Precious Sibanda.

The city’s surveillance officer noted that someone may still carry the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) of Covid-19 in their body for some time but would not be spreading the coronavirus.

“Some people can go up to 90 days with the RNA  but you are no longer spreading the virus. But we discharge people on Day 10. If patients had symptoms (symptomatic) we discharge them on Day 14, ,we add three days on top and you are discharged. We ask the community to accept these people  back. May they not stigmatise them.  Let’s learn to live with Covid-19, let’s take care of one another and assist each other to overcome this burden,” Sibanda said.

Sibanda said it was important for people to abide by isolation and quarantine regulations in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

“We are saying may people not breach these protocols because those are drivers of transmission where people are breaching quarantine protocols. Quarantine is when someone has been tested but is waiting for their result and that’s before they know it. After they know their result and they are positive they then go into isolation,” said the city’s surveillance officer.

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