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‘Negative symptomatic COVID-19 patients threat to society’

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A HEALTH expert has warned that people who display COVID-19 symptoms, but test negative for the virus pose a serious threat to society, and risk losing their lives if they did not seek urgent medical attention.

BY SILAS NKALA

Mpilo Hospital chief executive Solwayo Ngwenya spoke to NewsDay after reports that several people were complaining of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, but tested negative for the deadly virus.

“I can inform you that the coronavirus PCR test only picks up 70% of cases and misses out on 30%, so people with symptoms can actually be negative when they have COVID-19,” Ngwenya said.

“This is very dangerous for them because if we are told they are negative when they have symptoms, they may deteriorate and die — and these people, I am sure, will be missing from the statistics of those infected with COVID-19,” he said.

His remarks come as COVID-19 claimed 10 more lives in Zimbabwe on Saturday, pushing the overall death toll to 291 since the pandemic broke out in the country nine months ago.

The Health ministry daily COVID-19 update shows that nine of the deaths were recorded in Harare with the other in Bulawayo.

As of December 5, Zimbabwe had recorded 10 617 cases, 8 844 recoveries and 291 deaths.

Ngwenya said people who display COVID-19 symptoms, but test negative mix with society, potentially spreading the disease. He said their funerals are also held as normal ones, which is catastrophic.

The medical practitioner said the fact that they might not be captured as COVID-19 patients gave a false impression that the pandemic was not that serious in the country.

“My advice is that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should seek urgent medical care even if they are said to be negative. If they just wait to test positive before seeking treatment, by the time they go looking for care it might be too late for them,” he said.

Ngwenya also said there was need to strengthen the prevention mechanisms in the country.

“Citizens should be on the lookout to make sure that they prevent getting the coronavirus because the virus is very difficult to contain. It may lead to death, respiratory complications, kidney problems, difficulties with smell and taste and might even cause the brain to malfunction.”

Ngwenya said coronavirus in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa was going to be a massive problem in the coming months as the infections are likely to skyrocket.

“There are going to be a lot of movements around the festive season, thereby, causing a lot of infections. We may not cope at all with increasing demands for tests and for contact tracing, quarantine centres, health services and critical care may be in short supply and a lot of people may come looking for oxygen because they will be breathless,” he said.

Ngwenya said laxity would bring more tears, adding that citizens should adhere to the set COVID-19 protocols to stay safe and alive.
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