Persons who test positive for the coronavirus can continue to show signs of the virus for as much as three months after their initial diagnosis.
This is according to Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ronald Georges who explained that this can be seen through persistent PCR tests for the virus.
“Part of the issues with the PCR test is that after the initial positive [test], the PCR test can continue to test positive for up to three months even after the person has cleared the virus,” Dr Georges said during a recent virtual stakeholders forum on COVID-19.
“So pieces of viral genetic material, RNA can still be circulating,” he added.
The CMO said while these may not be viable or infectious, the PCR test can still pick them up and give a reading which suggests that the person has COVID.
In terms of interpretation of these tests, however, Dr Georges assured that such persons are not infectious and are safe to be out in the community.
Dr Georges also noted that similar issues are beginning to show with antigen tests, but indicated that this is much rarer.
He explained that research continues to be done on this phenomenon.
“So for now, the PCR test is not required for end of isolation,“ Dr Georges said.
He noted that with countries facing challenges regarding issues of business continuity, the severity of COVID-19 and infectivity periods, there has been a resultant reduction in isolation periods.
He said local health officials will continue to review the information that emerges from the United Kingdom and the United States to determine if any further changes need to be made in the BVI regarding its own isolation period.
Persons in the BVI are currently required to remain in isolation for 10 days or seven days with a negative antigen test.
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