8 cruise ship workers test positive for Covid with rapid test, but negative with PCR

by Linda Straker

  • Repatriated cruise ship workers arrived on MS Mariner on Monday, 16 June 2020
  • 8 positive results for Covid-19 using rapid tests; all 8 tested negative using PCR
  • Group of 8 in quarantine and scheduled to undergo another PCR test

Health Minister, Nickolas Steele, has disclosed that 8 of the 113 cruise ship workers who arrived on MS Mariner on Monday, 16 June 2020 tested positive for Covid-19 during the screening stage in which rapid test kits are used, but PCR tests conducted immediately after showed the same workers were negative.

The 8 individuals are in quarantine and scheduled to undergo another PCR test. Steele said that the result of the second test will either change Grenada’s situation or maintain the status of zero active cases.

“We have people in quarantine that we will continue to test, so there is a possibility that one or two, or God forbid, that some of those individuals who are in quarantine may test positive for Covid-19, then we may have to say one person has tested positive,” he said on Thursday during a news conference, where details were outlined about the protocols that will be enforced for all returning nationals allowed to enter the country on Friday, 19 June on a special repatriation flight from New York.

The health minister said that keeping returning nationals in mandatory state facility quarantine for a minimum of 4 days is the government’s way of ensuring that when a person is released or removed from quarantine, there is zero or minimal possibility of transmitting the virus to others.

“That is why we insist on quarantine. We are making it mandatory,” he said, explaining that the results of both the rapid test and the PCR to all arrivals at the airport will determine the length of stay in mandatory quarantine.

The rapid test looks for antibodies that are produced by the body if a person has or had the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19 disease; while the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test detects the presence of the actual virus or parts of the virus. Rapid test results are shown in a few minutes, but are not as accurate as PCR tests which take at least several hours for processing at a lab and cost significantly more.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is continuously amending and adjusting the science guideline for living with Covid-19 and recently disclosed that quarantine can be reduced to 10 days. “That is why we are now using the figure of 10 days, but the health professionals will make that final determination based on the passenger’s history,” Steele told the media.

Grenada recorded its first confirmed Covid-19 patient in March and to date, there are 23 cases. Steele said at present all the cases have been declared as recovered. “So, we have no active case but this can change and so the call here is that we do not become complacent.” He advises the general public to comply with all the health protocols.

In total, the island with a population of 110,000 conducted 853 PCR tests and 4,500 rapid tests. Grenada recorded no Covid-19 related death. All patients admitted to the General Hospital are tested for the virus.

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