Specialist warns against trusting tests

Tests do not detect incubation period

Arrivals at Madeira Airport, where tests are planned

The Diario reports online that the President of the National Association of Public Health Doctors, Ricardo Mexia, warned last night, in an interview with TVI24, that specialists have doubts on screening with tests on tourists who will arrive at Madeira Airport from July 1 and believes the tests will “not be particularly effective” in detecting patients with COVID-19.

“We have such problems with people who are in their incubation period. I can take the test at the airport and the test is negative and be a test with a correct diagnosis. And the next day I develop the disease”, exemplified the doctor of Public Health of the Department of Epidemiology of the Ricardo Jorge Institute, who also considers that“ the window for detection is small (…) and improbable” because in practice we are talking about people who, when they left their countries or regions, were in good health and who got sick or developed symptoms during the flight. “I have doubts if screening on arrival is a measure that can solve the problem for us. You can give us some data, you can identify some cases, but I would say that there will surely be few (who would not be identified)”, added Ricardo Mexia.

In view of the low efficiency of airport screening and taking into account that the pandemic situation “is not yet over, neither in Portugal, nor in most other countries, but in all,” the public health doctor concludes that “we have to be cautious ”.

Meanwhile, the health authorities in Madeira, announced in their latest update yesterday that three more cases have recovered from COVID-19 on another day that saw no new cases.

8 thoughts on “Specialist warns against trusting tests”

  1. Makes sense to me. You also have what they are calling “silent spreaders” what we used to call “carriers” in the old days. People who get infected and show no symptoms at all but carry and spread the disease. This happens with all diseases that spread through human contact

  2. This article is what I’ve said all along. OK, it may catch some, so the logic is that if some on a plane test positive, then the whole plane load of passengers should be quarantined. But the chance of missing people altogether is quite high, I would have thought.

    Incidentally, apparently, even if they don)t have symptoms, they will show positive in a test, providing that test is undertaken after the incubation period, of, say, five days.

  3. Whilst I fully agree with the comments above, nevertheless it does beg the question, metaphorically speaking, do we continue to stay safe and ‘die’ through hardship in what will be the worst recession the world has ever seen or do we come out of hiding and fight back albeit in a cautious manner and try and control the situation?.

    No test or vaccine will ever give 100% reassurance but in the short / medium term, the 24 hour test before departure would at least set an accredited standard with the added benefit of ensuring that only people with a negative result would enter the airport environment. I may be wrong but I can see the FCO only changing their advisory against all unnecessary international travel when the testing procedure is in place and also only to places with agreed ‘air corridors’ which will then allow validity for travel insurance.

    Madeira is waiting for the “cavalry to come over the hill” and rescue it’s besieged tourist economy. The present test on arrival scenario is barely likely to get more than a brave few of a “scouting party” to appear, as who would want to risk contagion on the flight and find that 12 hours after signing in to your chosen hotel you may be ‘extradited’ into quarantine by receiving an unexpected test result?.

    The harsh reality facing the Regional Authority is that they need to outshine the mathematical genius of Einstein to change the equation 0 risk of C19 infection = 0 tourist revenue. Let’s hope they can pull it off !!


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