RT-PCR tests on woman in government, private testing centres show different results

The type of tests conducted in both the laboratories is Reverse Transcription Polymerase chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

In a rare case of differing COVID-19 test results of a single person, the result of RT-PCR test conducted on a woman in a government testing centre in Imphal, Manipur differ from the result of the same test conducted in a private testing centre within a time span of a day. 

The woman in her 50s from Imphal East was tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday after she was tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

According to a family member of the woman, the second test was done at Babina Diagnostic Centre in Imphal as the woman doubted the test result conducted at the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL), JNIMS, which showed she was COVID-19 positive.

The type of tests conducted in both the laboratories is Reverse Transcription Polymerase chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

Speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press, the woman said that she wanted to know which result is reliable between the two results of the RT-PCR tests conducted at the government testing centre and the private testing centre.

“Considering my case, it cannot be ruled out that there might be many cases where genuine COVID-19 negative people are kept in Covid Care Centre,” the woman said. 

If the testing result of the private laboratory is wrong by chance, the woman questioned, “Are the private testing centres carrying out an illegal business, taking advantage of COVID-19 and by charging a huge amount on testing.”

In another controversy shrouding COVID-19 testing in Manipur, individuals have been receiving messages in their mobile phones that their samples for COVID-19 test have been collected though no samples were collected nor have the persons conducted any testing.

An individual from Konung Mamang, Imphal, who chose not to be identified, said that he has not conducted any COVID-19 testing. 

 “I was shocked when I received a message sent from myGOV in my mobile phone with the message that nasal swab sample has been collected from me for COVID-19 testing,” he said. 

This reporter went through the whole text message and it also read “Please save for future reference. You are advised to isolate yourself till the sample is tested and test report is available.”

“By chance, if they also uploaded that I tested positive for COVID-19, do I have to stay in Covid Care Centre and will the government declare my locality as a contentment zone?” he questioned.

The Imphal Free Press called up some officials of the Health department to enquire regarding the difference in tests results and the messages received by individuals. However none of them picked up the calls.

Following complaints about unclear and false results received in Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19, most of the individuals go for RT-PCR testing as it is considered one of the most accurate testing methods for COVID-19.

However, a big question arises on how far the RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 is reliable if the results of RT-PCR testing of an individual conducted in a private centre and government centre in on consecutive days differ?. 

So far, 13,556 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in Manipur while the death toll rose to 93, according to a the COVID-19 Common Control Room of the state government.

In the past few weeks, it has been observed that the COVID-19 positive cases in the state detected per day remained above 100.

First Published:Oct. 12, 2020, 11:18 p.m.

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