Image by Ronny K from Pixabay

SUVA, 22 APRIL 2020 (FIJI GOVT)—The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services strongly advises all health providers in Fiji to cease offering IgM/IgG rapid tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19.  These tests are based on the detection of antibodies and/or antigens and they are not reliable for the acute diagnosis of COVID-19.

Members of the public should not rely on these rapid test kits as their use jeopardises Fiji’s efforts to contain and suppress the coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation and the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia (RCPA) have both recently issued statements strongly advising against the use of these antibody/antigen based rapid test kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

To quote the RCPA:

“The RCPA therefore recommends that the new IgG/IgM tests are not used to screen for early infection, and that current Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests remain as the primary testing method for COVID-19. Whilst these new antibody tests may have a place in detecting unrecognised past infection and immunity, that role still needs to be rigorously evaluated. Most importantly, from a public health perspective, COVID-19-positive patients are infectious to other people early in infection when the COVID-19 IgG/IgM tests are giving false negative results. False negatives would have serious risks of incorrectly reassuring people and therefore increasing the spread of infection within the community.”

The molecular based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing worldwide and is the test conducted at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Fiji Centre for Disease Control (Fiji CDC). The only reliable testing for COVID-19 in Fiji is available through the Ministry of Health’s molecular laboratory at Fiji CDC.

If you think you may have COVID-19 please call 158 or go to one of our fever clinics. You will be assessed by our medical teams and a sample taken for testing (free of charge) if they suspect you may have COVID-19.

The Ministry will continue to review its position on new testing technologies in step with changes in the evidence and guidance from recognized professional health institutions….PACNEWS