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22 per cent of rapid COVID-19 tests in Ontario reporting false negatives: experts

The Medical Laboratory Professionals' Association of Ontario is encouraging those who test negative from a rapid test to continue to monitor symptoms.
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A positive swab test for COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

After many lauded rapid COVID-19 tests as a "game-changer," the Medical Laboratory Professionals' Association of Ontario (MLPAO) is expressing its concerns over the method.

According to Michelle Hoad, MLPAO CEO, the rapid tests are not as accurate as their more time-consuming counterpart, with 22 per cent of rapid COVID-19 tests reporting false negatives.

"A lot of tests have been pushed out to a variety of locations across the province to validate them," Hoad explains. "Now, we're starting to learn there's a lot of false negatives, meaning there's not enough virus in your system to show up on a rapid test, but if that test went into a lab, it would be positive."

Hoad adds due to an issue with the testing machines not buffering and deactivating the virus properly, those administering the test or handling the specimen need to be fully equipped with personal protective equipment, and the sample is handled away from others.

Meanwhile, she urges residents who received a negative result via a rapid test to continue to monitor for symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

"How do you feel, are you carrying symptoms? You need to really self-check and ensure you are following the protocols that have been set out by our public health system," says Hoad.

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