IN RESPONSE to reports received at the Fermanagh Herald from local people who carried out lateral flow Covid-19 tests at home to find they were given a false negative result, we asked the Department of Health to explain the discrepancy.
In recent weeks, local people who have felt unwell and displayed the symptoms of Covid-19 followed government advice to carry out a lateral flow test at home.
One 21-year-old from Derrylin tried to shake off the symptoms and continued to work on the family farm because five successive lateral flow tests gave him a negative Covid-19 result.
Persistent and gradually-worsening symptoms made him seek out a PCR test, which came back positive.
The rest of his family has now contracted Covid and are recovering and self-isolating at home.
“Testing with lateral flow detection tests (LFD) twice a week and on a regular basis increases their detection rate,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said, “LFD tests are effective at picking up those who are most infectious.”
The benefit of lateral flow tests is that more tests generate easy-to-understand results in under half an hour and can be used at home without the need for laboratory equipment. Home pregnancy test kits are another example of a lateral flow test.
They differ from polmerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which look for genetic material from the virus and are generally more sensitive.
The Department of Health said lateral flow tests have an important function in detecting asymptomatic cases and work best when used for early detection of Covid.
According to the ‘Pharmaceutical Journal’ Unlike PCR tests, “lateral flow tests cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus in a sample, which means the test may not give a positive result if a person has only recently been infected; are in the incubation period, or if you have mostly recovered.”
The Department of Health advises people with any symptoms of Covid-19 to self-isolate and book a PCR test immediately.
“PCRs – the most accurate tests – are available at testing sites across NI and can be booked at: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test,” the Department spokesperson said.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition