Doctors Syndicate (Photo: Al-Ahram)
The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has warned health authorities against merely relying on rapid coronavirus tests when examining medical staff at quarantine hospitals, saying their results have not proved accurate.
“The test has not been proven effective or useful and threatens dangerous results in increasing the spread of infection among medical staff and society,” the syndicate said in a statement on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that rapid immunodiagnostic tests must be validated and recommended that they should only be used in research settings, not for clinical decision-making.
The syndicate citied WHO’s advice that molecular testing of respiratory tract samples, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, is the recommended method for the identification and laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 cases.
The syndicate criticised instructions by healthcare authorities regarding steps taken to identify coronavirus cases among medical staff.
It said that PCR tests are only conducted if the rapid test comes positive, and if they are negative, the instructions dictate no other measure. It added that the policies in place do not require medical staff to be isolated after leaving quarantine hospital, but only rely on the rapid tests.
It also said that the type of the rapid diagnostic test used detects the presence of antibodies in the blood of suspected cases, while antibodies are produced over days after infection with the virus.
“The accuracy of this test is very low, and it has high rates of false positive and negative results,” it stressed.
The syndicate called for conducting two PCR tests, 48 hours apart, for all medical staff before they are allowed to leave quarantine hospitals in order to curb spread of the virus.
According to a tally by the syndicate, as of Tuesday, 91 Egyptian doctors have been infected by the coronavirus and five have died.
Egypt has so far recorded 5,268 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 380 deaths. Of the total, 1,335 have fully recovered.