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Rural Alaska

Bethel health officials ‘highly confident’ that Quinhagak girl received false positive coronavirus test result

  • Author: Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK News
  • Updated: June 1
  • Published June 1

The new Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital, still under construction on June 27, 2019. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

This article originally appeared at KYUK.org and is republished here with permission.

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BETHEL -- A young girl from Quinhagak who tested positive for the coronavirus last week likely was not carrying the virus, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. says.

The corporation believes it received a false positive from a rapid test administered to the child after she was flown into Bethel for medical care. The girl, who’s under the age of 10, was tested a second time and the sample was sent to a state lab. These lab results take a few days to process, and results received May 29 came back negative.

The girl was initially tested on May 26. That day, YKHC flew a response team to Quinhagak to test close contacts of the child and to offer community-wide testing. About 350 people, approximately half the village population, volunteered for rapid tests. YKHC followed the rapid tests with swabs later sent to the state lab. All initial results came back negative. The lab results are pending.

“While YKHC is highly confident the rapid test provided a false positive, YKHC uses rapid testing when we believe it would make a difference in how we manage clinical response of a patient at that time,” YKHC wrote in a statement to media. “In other words, if the rapid test returns as positive, it allows us to urge quarantine or self-isolation immediately to reduce the risk of community spread.

"We act as every positive is a true positive, because the health risk to our communities of not doing so is too high. In this circumstance, it also allowed YKHC to deploy our village rapid response team out of an abundance of caution to conduct community-based response.”

YKHC urges Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta residents to remain vigilant in their protective measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus by physical distancing from non-household members, regular hand washing, wearing a face covering in public, and regularly disinfecting surfaces in homes. YKHC also encourages everyone to take a free coronavirus test outside the Bethel Alaska Airlines terminal when arriving from out of the region.

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