SRINAGAR — A patient who was admitted to SMHS hospital has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, few days after his two back-to-back tests returned negative for the disease at CD Hospital where he was being treated.

Doctors said that it was possible in view of the different sets of tests done to confirm the virus.

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“The test of the patient was negative twice when naso/oropharyngeal swab was taken in CD hospital,” Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, HOD, Government Chest Diseases (CD) Hospital, said.

He said the patient was taken to SMHS for an emergency procedure known as tracheostomy—which involves creating an opening in the neck in order to place a tube into a person’s windpipe to allow air to enter the lungs.

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“During the procedure, a tracheal aspirate, a different type of sample, was taken for testing which was positive,” he said.

Explaining it further, Dr Naveed, who is also a leading pulmonologist, said this sample is more sensitive for testing and gets converted to negative a few days after nasopharyngeal swab converts.

“Sometimes the sample is positive, although the virus may be non-viable and the patient is non-infective in such a state,” he said.

Dr Saima Rashid, Principal GMC, said that during the patient’s stay in SMHS hospital, all necessary precautions were taken and he was kept in a totally separate room.

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“He was shifted back to CD hospital,” she said. Seconding him, Dr Naveed Nazir said the patient was the first COVID-19 patient in J&K to be “ventilated and the department of anesthesia and critical care is working extremely hard on the patient.”

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