S'pore only country using test to find Covid-19 even if patient has recovered

Very important.

Nyi Nyi Thet | February 25, 2020, 07:11 PM

Singapore is the only country in the world to use a particular test to detect Covid-19, even if the patient's recovered. Here's why that's so important.

Contact tracing is the main reason why some cases in Japan have been unearthed, with a boat party during New Year being identified as the scene for many confirmed case.

And unsurprisingly, Singapore takes contact tracing seriously.

Here's a great example:

The most recent case is a prime example of how we can miss things if we don't examine the circumstances carefully.

Case 91 experienced onset of respiratory symptoms and visited Sengkang General Hospital on Jan. 26, as well as several clinics. Despite showing symptoms, she was not diagnosed with Covid-19 then.

By the time the police reached out to her for contact tracing, she had stopped experiencing respiratory symptoms, though her exact recovery date is unknown.

Can now test for patients even if they've recovered

Standard tests cannot confirm if someone previously had the virus.

The current laboratory test used to confirm the Covid-19 infection detects the presence of viral genetic material in a biological sample obtained from a patient.

However, the test will not work if the patient has recovered and the body's immune system has cleared the virus.

This is where the test Duke-NUS developed for antibodies in a person's blood comes in.

The body's immune system will produce antibodies in response to the infection, though. These antibodies will stay with the recovered patient for longer periods of time.

This particular test helps identify patients that might have recovered before they could be tested for the virus.

Determining the source is the key to keeping clusters under control

The problem with contact tracing is that the trail can be lost when one is unable to make connections to previous cases.

The government acknowledges the importance of these connections. During a press conference on February 25, the government went deeper into how this will help in contact tracing.

If Singapore is not able to determine the source, that means the source is still in the community.

But now that Singapore is able to determine the source, there’s a greater assurance that these two clusters are under control.

Top image via National Cancer Institute on Unsplash