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False negatives risks coronavirus spread

Health officials warn inaccurate results could increase risk of spreading

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Public Health is warning the community about new rapid tests for COVID-19 that may provide misleading results.

Officials say there is at least one non-FDA approved test being used in the Charlotte area could give people a false sense of security that they are safe and not infectious.

“It has a very low sensitivity early in the illness which means a higher likelihood of a false negative result,” says Public Health Director Gibbie Harris. “This could increase the risk that an infectious person would spread the disease."

Currently, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services does not accept positive results from non-FDA approved tests. These positive results could be due to current or past infections from viruses other than COVID-19.

But there are some alternative rapid tests that are FDA approved like antibody testing. Yet still there is a chance that may not be 100% accurate either. It’s best to follow up with a second test as well using a nose or throat swap.

Health officials in Mecklenburg County say more accurate, rapid testing is coming. In the meantime, if you have symptoms of the coronavirus such as fever, coughing, or shortness of breath reach out to your healthcare provide or the public health department for acceptable testing methods.

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