Senior Doctors Urge Govt To Dump COVID-19 Rapid Testing As It Poses More Infection Risks

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By Alois Vinga

THE ZIMBABWE Senior Hospital Doctors Association (ZSHDA) has urged health authorities to do discard the Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT) on suspected COVID-19 patients arguing the process poses higher risks of spreading the deadly virus.

In a statement Monday, ZSHDA said the RDT method was not an effective way of detecting the disease exposing higher risks to the populace as an infected person can slip the testing process.

“The COVID-19 RDT has a fundamental limitation; they rely on the detection of antibodies made by the patient to COVID-19 infection a week to 12 days after they first become sick and are spreading it,” the higher-ranking doctors said.

They further argued that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was the best process to test for coronavirus.

“Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is the way to go. RDT is just a mass surveillance tool,” the doctors’ group said.

The doctors said patients take seven to 12 days to make antibodies and during that period COVID-19 positive people are highly infectious and if tested using the RDT, there was a risk of spreading the virus as the process failed to immediately detect an infected person.

ZSHDA said relying on the RTDs in the early phase of the infection would be inappropriate since chances are high that cases of COVID-19 would be missed thereby putting communities at risk of infections.

In Zimbabwe, the RTD method is commonly being used when testing returning citizens. Over 1 000 Zimbabweans have returned home since the start of the national lockdown on 30 March.

The government has also ordered all companies that reopened Monday to ensure that their employees undergo mandatory coronavirus testing before any business resumes operations.

Zimbabwe has 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases, five recoveries, and four deaths.