Prince Edward County, Ont., man concerned about accuracy of COVID-19 testing

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WATCH: Marc Seguin was surprised to learn from a nurse at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health that COVID-19 tests are only 70 per cent accurate. – May 13, 2020

A Prince Edward County man says his experience with being tested for COVID-19 shines a light on the accuracy of testing and has him concerned that not all cases are being detected.

“I’m thinking I could very well have COVID-19,” says Marc Seguin.

Seguin, 63, suffered a health scare in early May when he started to feel ill.

“I was not feeling well and I had these respiratory symptoms,” says Seguin.

Concerned he may have contracted COVID-19, he called the assessment centre at the Picton arena and was advised he should be tested.

“While I was doing the test, though, the doctor who was testing me indicated, well, maybe I had a touch of pneumonia,” said Seguin, “because he could detect something, I guess in his checkup of me.”

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READ MORE: Wider testing, surveillance needed to catch asymptomatic COVID-19 cases: experts

Seguin was tested for COVID-19 as a precaution and received the results less than 24 hours later. While his test came back negative, he still had concerns.

“The public health nurse said, ‘Well, you know, the COVID-19 test is only about 70 per cent accurate,’ and I was surprised by that,” Seguin said.

“There could be 30 per cent of the population who have been tested, who think they are COVID-19-free. That may not be.”

According to the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) there are 182 probable cases of COVID-19 in the region — patients who didn’t test positive, but presented symptoms or were in close contact with confirmed cases.

The accuracy of the coronavirus test is dependent on testing a person within a critical window of time.

“Test them within that first five days between day one and day five, when they develop symptoms,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health for Hastings Prince Edward. “Because that is most likely when we are going to see the virus.

“And that test is meaningful. If we extend it — let’s say we test somebody on day 10 — quite possibly we may have a negative result.”

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Out of 5,030 coronavirus tests that have been conducted In Prince Edward and Hastings counties, only 42 came back positive.

READ MORE: Alberta in final stages of validating serology tests to detect COVID-19 antibodies

Global News asked HPEPH if the region had any false positive cases. In an email statement, spokesperson Karen La Rose said, “HPEPH was recently made aware of concerns about several positive test results issued by Bio Test Laboratories, a third-party laboratory that had been outsourced to assist Public Health Ontario with the high volume of testing.

“Immediately upon being made aware of these concerns, HPEPH arranged for re-testing of the impacted individuals and the subsequent test results were not positive. It is our understanding that Public Health Ontario has discontinued COVID-19 testing through that laboratory.

“At this time, there is no reason to question the validity of any negative results received to date.”

As for Seguin, he was later diagnosed with pneumonia in his left lung and has recovered with medication.

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