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Confusion over ‘all clear’ for Covid-19 test

A man has said he was given the all clear on a potential killer strain of coronavirus after he fell ill on a flight back to Bermuda — but was later told he was not screened for Covid-19 at all.

The man, who returned on a flight from Miami on March 4 after visiting his home country, arrived in Bermuda with flu symptoms and was taken straight to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

He said he was told the next day by the health department that he had influenza — but was clear of Covid-19.

However, a doctor at the hospital “backtracked” on Monday — after the man's daughter and her mother back home had already ended self-imposed quarantine.

The man, still at home on self-isolation, said: “My family had taken the responsibility of isolating themselves, based on my condition.

“I had spent time with my daughter while I was there, so they saw it fit to take those steps.

“As a result of that information from here, which was incorrect, they eased it up. My daughter went back to extracurricular activities.”

Now his family have had to go back into isolation.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said the hospital doctor told him on March 6, “they were comfortable saying I was negative for coronavirus”.

“Now they are telling me on Monday that I was not screened for Covid-19. So we are back to square one.”

He was not cleared of Covid-19 until Thursday night.

The lack of a specific check was revealed after the man asked for a clean bill of health in writing.

He said: “The doctor said on Monday he was no longer comfortable in giving me the records for my relatives because the screen they did on me only covered different strains of coronavirus and not Covid-19.

“He also told me that my samples did go overseas for testing as a result and they expected it back by this Friday.”

The man added: “Because my first test came back positive for influenza A, and the fact that I had come from a low-risk country, that constituted a screen.

“Influenza A was detected, influenza B was not detected. Three or four coronavirus types were not detected. But they did not screen for Covid-19.”

He said yesterday his condition was “much better, much improved”.

The man added: “I'm staying in the house. I have a couple of friends that check up on me. When I do need something, they drop it off for me at my door and I get it after they've left.

“My landlord sounded very anxious. He has two small children. My family's anxious about it — I have had a whole back and forth with my daughter and her mum.”

A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said the hospital, which is on “high alert”, could not discuss individual patients.

She added: “The key is to ask questions about symptoms and understand potential risk exposures based on someone's travel or exposure to someone who might have the new coronavirus.

“The risk of exposure is changing almost daily at the moment, and we follow closely what is happening globally and review advisories on overseas travel risks.

“Last week, the risk factors would have been different to today, for example, as anyone looking at the emerging US figures would recognise.”

Tests for the virus are conducted overseas with a turnaround time of about five days.

The spokeswoman added: “We hope that this will change in the coming weeks and we will be able to carry out the tests on the island resulting in a much quicker turnaround time.

“We, therefore, follow a risk-assessment protocol while results are sent away.”

The spokeswoman said people with influenza, or who suspect they might have Covid-19, should isolate themselves.

She added: “Even if Covid-19 is suspected, the individual will only be admitted if they require hospital treatment and they may be discharged to isolate at home with a follow up by the Department of Health.

“Eighty per cent of people will likely only have mild to no symptoms, so will not need hospital treatment. Only those with severe symptoms will need critical-care management as those will be the lives that are most at risk.”

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Published March 14, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 14, 2020 at 1:13 am)

Confusion over ‘all clear’ for Covid-19 test

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