Sick teen turned down for coronavirus test, twice

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A sick teen whose pediatrician requested a test for the virus which causes COVID-19 has been denied the test twice. (PNC file photo)

A mother is frustrated over concerns that her daughter may have a mild case of coronavirus. The teen’s pediatrician requested that she be tested for the virus which causes COVID-19 but has been denied the test twice. Now her parents are sick and fear that they may have already passed on the unknown infection to others.

The 16-year-old teen started exhibiting symptoms of a fever on February 7 after her mother returned to Guam on a flight from San Francisco which also passed through Honolulu. In the weeks to follow, the teen experienced a recurring fever. In the third week of the illness, the teen went to the doctor who prescribed her an antibiotic but it didn’t work.

At that point, the doctor was concerned that she may have a mild case of coronavirus.

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The pediatrician reached out to Public Health and was turned away. Despite the doctor’s request apparently the teen did not meet the criteria to be considered a Person Under Investigation or a surveillance case.

What I got out of it was that they were saving the tests for people with different criteria maybe. But my daughter did have a low-grade fever for three weeks and it was concerning enough that my pediatrician requested public health to test her for coronavirus,” the mother, who requested anonymity, told PNC in an interview.

At the time, the teen’s condition continued, the doctor ordered that the teen be tested for strep and influenza. Both tests came back negative. Then, she ordered a throat culture which eliminated the possibility of other infections.

“The doctor hand-wrote on the lab slip…please check for coronavirus, you know because my daughter was showing symptoms. The lab denied that,” the mother said.

Not knowing if the teen has COVID-19 and being denied the test, the doctor ordered the family to self-quarantine. It’s been five days so far.

“The main messaging is if you have the symptoms you will be tested if your doctor requests you will be tested. But that just hasn’t been true for us so yeah it’s scary. I don’t know who they are saving the tests for or my daughter is not important enough to get the test or she’s too young so they think she is just going to get over it…but who else has she passed it on to when she was going to school this whole time,” the mother said.

She added: “I feel bad I don’t want to infect any other people. You know my husband feels bad too because he was ill and now two of his co-workers are having respiratory illness.”

PNC has reached out to the Joint Information Center regarding the teen’s case and what the criteria are for laboratory testing guidelines for COVID-19. The two tiers are COVID-19 PUI and Surveillance cases. The first tier is for patients who have symptoms of cough or shortness of breath and have recently traveled to an affected area or have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Surveillance cases are patients that a clinician has judged should be tested but do not meet the COVID -19 PUI criteria.

According to the JIC, mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their health provider.

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