‘Results of test depend on techniques, timing’

Kathmandu, March 20

Bhutan got its second positive case of COVID-19 and she is the female partner of the first case, a US tourist. The woman had tested negative thrice during her two-week quarantine. But she tested positive in the fourth test on the last day of quarantine, raising concerns about all the suspected patients who tested negative during the first test.

A person tested negative can test positive later, said health experts. “Some of the people show the symptoms within 14 days and some even show the symptoms after 21 days or even later,” said Shravan Kumar Mishra, virologist at National Public Health Laboratory, Teku.

“Tests depend on techniques and methods used in testing the samples. They also depend on the amount of virus in the body. But research works are on and we can’t pinpoint about it,” said Mishra.

A total of 253,933 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 10,407 have died with the infection. The number of infections has soared in Italy, Iran and Spain in the past few days as people, who did not show any symptoms earlier, have also tested positive for the virus now.

“Viral shedding is relatively higher in early stages of infection. People acquire the virus from droplets. But it takes time for the virus to attack the cells in body of the person infected. Also there is nothing 100 per cent specific. So a person testing negative can test positive later. This is a new form of coronavirus, therefore researches are yet to be done,” said Abhimanyu Jha, professor at Department of Pathology in Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

“We need to look at every gene of the virus before coming up with a conclusion,” said Basudev Pandey, director Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, under the Department of Health Services. “It also depends on setting and timing of sample collection,” Pandey added.

Health practitioners have been advising people to wash hands at regular interval or use alcohol-based sanitisers to avoid contracting coronavirus. “These components break lipid (fat) layer of the virus and help prevent COVID-19 infection. Use of sanitisers for the time during this global pandemic is recommended but in general cases high use of alcohol-based sanitisers will destroy bacteria which protect our skin from infection. As a result people are likely to suffer from skin infection — dry skin and skin rashes are its symptoms,” said Mishra.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. “Consumption of food where there are droplets of infected patients may also infection people. When we eat something it goes to the digestive system where such virus get inactive. But if it goes to our respiratory system then we get affected,” said Pandey.

Recommendations are also given to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter the body and can make one sick, according to World Health Organisation.

WHO said there was no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.