CEAC urges Govt to do Serology Covid 19 Tests on all road freight, border and isolation workers
Posted: 19-Aug-2020 |

Health officials are stumped by the case and are being urged to use serology testing which could reveal if a person has had the disease even if they haven't had a positive Covid test. There are so many new voices calling for Serology antibody testing to compliment the PCR test out there now not to take the advice of the scientific community now.

CEAC throws support behind others urging Govt to do Serology Covid 19 Tests.

This serology “antibody test” is used widely elsewhere including Australia so CEAC are stumped as to why Government have not used this more accurate test on all workers who come in contact with our borders including the truck freight industry.

Serology antibody testing could show if a third person is the missing link between the worker and the infected woman isolating in the hotel, and a growing list of scientists are now pushing for the blood testing to be rolled out to thousands of border workers to more accurately map the spread.

The blood test is more commonly known as a serology or anti-body test, cannot diagnose someone with an active Covid-19 infection, but it can confirm if they have had the virus in the past - even if the person was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.

TVNZ Q+A Jack Tame interviewed Professor Tony Blakely a NZ scientist at Melbourne University about how best could NZ fight the new outbreak of Covid 19 this last week, and during the interview. Public health professor Michael Baker and NZ scientist said the test would be useful to map how the virus spread from the woman to the maintenance worker at Rydges Hotel two weeks after the infected guest had left - and the pair had no physical contact.

"They appear to have been infected with a Covid-19 virus of the same genetic lineage.

"So it does suggest very strongly that that was the source infection for this case, but then you want to reconstruct what happened between the person staying in the hotel and this maintenance worker being infected."

Doing the serology testing on all Rydges Hotel staff would show if other people who had missed out on Covid testing had been exposed to the virus, Baker said.

"You really want to know whether other staff involved who might have been passed the virus on perhaps asymptomatically to this maintenance worker, or were they infected potentially from a contaminated surface there.

"It has real implications for how we manage these facilities.

"So this would be a situation where it would be justifiable I think, to use serological tests and to try and reconstruct that line of transmission."

TVNZ Q+A Professor Blakely stated clearly that all who are in contact with our borders, including the Ports must be tested fully for present infections with the PCR (swab test) and if the infection was over two weeks ago, he recommends testing with the serology antibody test for finding any past infections after two weeks.

Dr Blakely reminded Jack Tame that the PCR (Swab test) was not “perfect” and 20% failed to be accurate, showing false negative results after two weeks out from infection. This was Dr Blakely’s reason for recommending the serology antibody test as well as to have complete accurate results.

Ministry of Health clearly should be doing this now or we risk the case that we do not have adequate data to understand ‘how and why’ the latest community Covid cluster has emerged this week, so they are concentrating at the cold store site where containers are transported by trucks, CEAC assume all drivers are tested, - If not we must now test all our freight transport drivers and incorporate this with the current ‘swab test’- and “the antibody test (also called a serology test.) which confirm all who develop immunity to Covid 19 for true accurate test results.

Immunologist Nikki Moreland said the serology testing could paint a broader picture of what was going on at the border and at the Rydges Hotel. It would give clues about transmission where swab testing had not been able to.

"I think it could help to understand where the virus might have been in people that we haven't detected it with through normal surveillance mechanisms.

"That could be particularly useful in people that may have very mild symptoms and aren't even really necessarily aware that they've been exposed or infected," she said.

Clinical microbiologist Dr Arlo Upton said health officials might get more clues about the Rydges case and the community cluster if all border staff take the blood test as well as the regular Covid swabs.

"Although it would be perhaps a little bit logistically difficult, it's my belief that it would be worth offering serological testing to people who have been working around the border in recent months to provide us with a little bit more information around what's happened with the recent issues."

Dr Gary McAuliffe, medical director at the laboratory Labtests agreed.

The tests could play a crucial role in providing answers to the origins of the outbreak, he said.

"Where serology really has its value is outside the first week or two of symptoms where somebody may not be PCR positive anymore, but serology may play a key role in picking up if someone's had exposure in the past and helping to link back to previous cases."

He said the testing should be part of the government's border control plan.

NZ Ministry of Health/Minister needs to test all road freight workers for Covid 19 now to fully secure our borders, as any infected transport workers could freely move around the country to spread the pandemic widely and destroy our community health and economic future.

Most freight drivers manually touch the freight as it is offloaded from trucks so if any driver has Covid 19 it will be easily spread widely around the country, so CEAC calls on Government to have all truck freight operators to be tested now and every two weeks for Covid 19 to reduce community spread of Covid 19.

Ministry of Health must conduct full Covid 19 testing of all our citizens firstly and complete a full assessment of any presence of Covid 19 infections using both the PCR (swab test) and the serology antibody test.

We must have mass testing of all our community firstly then use a solid controlled ‘tracing of the Covid 19’ to have a ‘robust tracing process’ to fight Covid 19.

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