Bengalureans frustrated over false +ve Covid-19 tests

Bengalureans frustrated over false positive Covid-19 tests

This is all a scam, allege those affected

For the residents of an apartment on Graphite India Main Road in the Mahadevapura zone, the problem of inconsistent results was rammed home last week when a BBMP testing camp on October 23 saw seven out of 75 people receive a positive result on RT-PCR testing.

Among them was Biju Ayyappan, 38, who said he was shocked by the initial result because he did not have any symptoms. The other six included a 70-year-old neighbour, three maids working in other units and two security guards.

For latest updates on coronavirus outbreak, click here

Ayyappan said the lack of symptoms prompted him to doubt the result. “Of the six people in my household, including my wife, two children, sister and maid, I was the only one who tested positive,” he said.

His second test at a private lab on October 27 came back negative. Information shared with DH indicated that the remaining six people also tested negative in the second test.

In another part of the city, a 45-year-old man who did not want to be identified underwent the same problem. A friend of the individual told DH that the first RT-PCR test, taken early in the morning of October 27 at a private hospital on Old Airport Road, returned positive.

“As he had no symptoms, my friend had a second test done at a hospital in Marathahalli, which showed a negative report. The time difference between the two tests was about 12 hours,” the friend, Suhail, said.

Improper swab collection

Responding to the development, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said improperly collected swabs could also trigger negative reports.

“Throat or nasal swabs should be taken properly. There are possibilities of some not being inserted deep enough to get the tissue properly onto the swab. Any contamination or improper storage can also reflect in the results,” he said.

Dr Sudhakar added that fluctuating viral loads at different stages like asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, and symptomatic may also give different results. 

“The test by itself does not differ in any way. The kits that are being procured and used are all ICMR approved. So, there is no chance of the kits being defective,” he said.

Ayyappan, however, insisted that the original test report was inaccurate. “The positive test result led to calls from people with commercial interests. It is all a scam,” he said.

“Among them was even a call from a pest management company offering to sanitise my apartment unit,” he added.

No leak to third parties

BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said no numbers were leaked to third parties. “Phone numbers going out to other parties is simply not the modus operandi. However, if this is happening, we need to investigate and refer the matter to the police."