Can I have symptoms of COVID-19 but because the swab test is done early, the result comes out negative?

An undated handout photo shows a nasal swab produced by 3D printing at Formlabs in Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S., in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Formlabs/Handout via REUTERS

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Dr Tanya Melillo, Public Health Consultant at the Infectious Diseases Unit said that this is unlikely. Normally the results of the swab tests are pretty much spot on said the consultant: negative or positive. She added that there does however, exist a minimal chance that the swab test is carried out too early and the virus is not evident in the swab. She said that this was a very rare case where someone took a turn for the worse and had to have a second swab test.

When answering questions on Newsbook Q&A, Dr Melillo said that anyone who feels the onset of COVID-19 symptoms should call 111 immediately. She added that there is no reason to fear or panic and, once tested, the person should go home not go to work and await the swab result. “Let us not be selfish,” appealed Dr Melillo.

Does the number od tests mentioned everyday by the Superintendent of Public Health include swabs on patients who have already tested positive?

Dr Melillo said that the daily numbers of tests given by Prof Charmaine Gauci include both positive and negative results. The number refers to the total amount of persons tested. Those who test positive are re-tested periodically until their results turn up negative.

Is vomiting a symptom of COVID-19?

No said Dr Melillo. The symptoms include shortness of breath, dry coughing, diarrhoea, headaches and loss of taste and smell.

Should I request a swab test if I feel a sore throat, on and off, for four days?

Yes. If the sore throat has lasted for 4 days, go and get swabbed.

How long does it take for the swab results to come out? How long will it take for 111 to call you in?

The results can be out in a matter of 24 h said Dr Melillo but one has to understand that there is a streamlining of the process. Swabs are gathered from Ħal-Farruġ, Pembroke and Gozo and sent for analysis. There is a prescribe time when the tests are carried out and having been swabbed early does not mean that you will get the result within an hour. Positive results are tested repeatedly.

Dr Melillo said that 111 does not give the test results. It justs puts a patient into the system to get swabbes. In case of difficulty, one should call one’s GP.

Do you need help? Here are some helpful numbers:

  • 111 – for those who feel the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or who wish clarification on symptoms.
  • 21411 411 – for those who need food and medicines while in obligatory quarantine. 
  • 2294 4511/2294 4504 – Use these number to report infringments to the public health regulations and regulations pertaining to COVID-19.
  • 1772 – for those who feel lonely
  • 1575 – for those EMPLOYEES who want to ask about salaries and working conditions.
  • 1576 – for EMPLOYERS who want to ask about salaries and working conditions.
  • 153 – For those who want more information on the financial packages being administered by the Department of Social Services.
  • 144 – for those who want more information on the aid packages being administered by Malta Enterprise.
  • 2204 2200 – For Maltese residents stranded abroad.
  • 2598 1000 – for question about the educational sector.
  • 2169 2447– for information on the aid packages for the sectors of tourism and hotels.
  • 2590 3030 – For the elderly who have no support structures and need medicines, food, meals or shopping.
  • 2546 9111 – Information for those in the gaming industry.

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