Kin of COVID-positive duo tests negative

Kathmandu, April 15

The third member of a family residing in Sun City Apartments in Pepsicola with two COVID-19 patients has tested negative for the novel coronavirus disease.

The 52-year-old woman was admitted to the isolation ward of Patan Hospital on Monday after she tested positive for virus antibodies during rapid diagnostic tests performed on her. But a polymerase chain reaction test performed on her generated negative result, said Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population. She was released from the hospital today, but has been asked to remain in home quarantine for at least a week as doctors could not confirm whether she had recovered from the disease.

“More tests need to be conducted to confirm this,” said a virologist on condition of anonymity.

What is surprising is that the woman’s 58-year-old husband and her 81-yearold mother-in-law, who were living with her in the same apartment, have tested positive for COVID-19. Her husband and motherin-law are still in the isolation ward of Patan Hospital where they were admitted with her on Monday.

The three had returned from the United Kingdom on March 18.

Presence of coronavirus patients in Sun City Apartments had sent chills down the spine of many living in condominiums. There are five blocks in Sun City Apartments, which house about 475 families.

The government today subjected 298 people to rapid diagnostic tests at Sun City Apartments. Residents of Block ‘A’ of the condominium where the COVID-positive family was living and senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions from other blocks underwent tests. Tests were also performed on two domestic helps working in the apartment of the infected.

All residents and two domestic helps have tested negative for COVID-19. But throat swabs of domestic helps have been collected and sent to the National Public Health Laboratory for PCR test.

Though the residents of Sun City Apartments have tested negative for COVID-19, health experts have advised those residing in the condominiums to maintain social distance, stating rapid diagnostic tests may not always yield accurate results.

“Every test has its sensitivity and specificity. We can’t be exact. Therefore, the residents should maintain social distance for at least 14 days,” said epidemiologist and public health expert Sujan Marahatta. A virologist said on condition of anonymity that the test should be “repeated in ten to 14 days”.

“Retesting is necessary as a person who tested negative in rapid diagnostic test now can test positive later,” the virologist said.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.