by Terttu Newaka

THE Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council has warned the public against doing home-testing for Covid-19 to accurately detect active infections.

Photo: Reuters

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the council’s registrar of medicine Johannes Gaeseb said the rapid test [also referred to as the point-of-care antibody test] is not intended for self-testing and is only designed for use by health care professionals.

“It has come to the attention of NMRC (Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council) that there are rapid-testing kits available in the country intended for home use, that is, self-testing. Please, note that due to the seriousness of the pandemic and the urgent need to detect infected cases this method of testing is not encouraged for the testing of Covid-19 and severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),” he said.

Gaeseb said the testing is intricate and requires experts to perform it in diagnostic laboratories. These tests are used to identify active infections.

“Scientists usually run vital antibody tests in certified laboratories. However, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, several manufacturers have developed test [kits] that can be used outside of the laboratory at the point of care,” he added.

Gaeseb said since the outbreak of Covid-19 last December, various testing mechanisms have become available to help in the diagnosis of the virus.

The tests are used to detect whether a person has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and has Covid-19.

The tests can detect the presence of viral genetic material (nucleic acids) of SARS-CoV-2 and reveal whether one has been exposed to the virus.

They can detect the virus early in the infection and are at times able to detect the virus in a person before they fall sick.

“It takes time for our bodies to make antibodies, so people can already have SARS-CoV-2 and be spreading the infection to other people before antibodies are detected,” Gaeseb said.

He said given the intricacy of accurately detecting an active SARS-CoV-2 infection, all Covid-19 testing should only be performed by relevant laboratory professionals, who have been deemed competent in perfuming the tests.

“The results obtained will be used by the relevant health care professionals, who will provide you with appropriate advice and treatment if required, and importantly, the healthcare professional can alert the relevant health authorities for further action,” said Gaeseb.

World Health Organisation does not recommend self-testing for the identification of infectious cases.

He said testing would only be carried out if health care professionals find an individual to have symptoms that meet the standard case definition.

Gaeseb added that the sale of kits is not permitted.

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