A public health boss has told people in the South of England to self-isolate if they have Covid-19 symptoms even if they have tested negative in confusing new advice months after the country was paralysed by the 'pingdemic'.

It comes after several patients in Bath, Bristol and Swindon tested negative on a PCR test after a lateral flow test returned a positive result mystifying health experts.

PCR tests are far more accurate than lateral flow tests with only 2.8 per cent returning a false result, which are available free over the counter.

Becky Reynolds, director of public health for Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: 'If thinking it through there is quite a chance you have Covid, even if the PCR is coming back negative, then regard it as Covid and self-isolate.

'The advice is also to think about your local situation, do an individual risk assessment... so what is the likelihood that even though the PCR is negative, that you may still have Covid?'

The anomalous results were primarily reported in Bath, Bristol and Swindon, the UK Health Security Agency said, adding it was investigating the issue and that it did not appear technical issues had caused the problem. 

Reynolds admitted to the BBC it was a 'confusing' situation for people but asked for patience while an investigation into the testing anomalies takes place. 

An Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) member has called for an investigation to be conducted 'seriously and rapidly'. 

Meanwhile chief medical advisor for the UK Health Security Agency, Susan Hopkins, urged people to make sure they read testing instructions to avoid incorrect readings. 

Dr Lucy Pocock, a GP from Cadbury Heath Healthcare in south Gloucestershire, raised concerns over the issue after seeing a 'stream of patients' who had received negative PCR results but positive lateral flow tests.

She told the BBC: 'The worrying thing here is that these people are all clearly symptomatic and with a very unexpected negative PCR result.'   

'Several of these patients have done multiple lateral flow tests, all positive, and have then rightly gone on to do a PCR test, which has come back negative.

Medics have raised concerns people are unwittingly spreading Covid-19 because of the testing confusion.     


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