Health officials say PCR testing no longer required after positive ATK result

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Patients who test positive for Covid-19 after using an antigen test kit no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. Suphakit Sirilak from the Department of Medical Sciences says the requirement for a follow-up PCR test is expensive and time-consuming. In addition, the generally mild nature of the Omicron variant has removed the need for people who receive a positive ATK result to take a PCR test. The exception is people in high-risk groups who should still seek a PCR test and hospital treatment.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Suphakit says proper samples should be collected in the case of both ATK and RNA (PCR) testing. For ATK testing, this means using a nasopharyngeal swab or saliva. At hospitals, ATK testing requires a nasopharyngeal swab, but home testing can be done through either a nasopharyngeal swab or saliva. If using saliva, this should be collected first thing in the morning, before brushing teeth or using mouthwash. The sample should be taken from deep inside the throat.

In the case of PCR testing, initially only RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests were acceptable. However, Suphakit says the availability of RT-LAMP and CRISPR testing technologies can make testing faster, but these technologies are awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The new guidelines stipulate that patients who receive a positive ATK result and who are asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, should isolate at home or receive hospital treatment as an outpatient. If symptoms worsen, these patients can get a PCR test ahead of being treated in hospital. People who receive a negative ATK result do not need to quarantine but should take another ATK test within 3 days or if they develop symptoms.

Meanwhile, PCR testing will remain in use at international border checkpoints, but Suphakit adds that machine-based assay ATK tests or faster RNA tests could also be used.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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