A British resident in Malta is urging the public to stray on the side of caution after finding COVID-19 antibodies in her blood… despite having had three negative PCR tests.
“I don’t want to blame Malta’s health system because mistakes happen,” Sammy McEleny, a 31-year-old estate agent told Lovin Malta. “My aim is to tell people to be really vigilant. I’ve had three tests and one of those should have detected the virus, but my results all came out negative.”
“If I had gone by the first result and gone out to socialise, I could have been a coronavirus super-spreader.”
After a colleague tested positive for the virus at the beginning of October, Sammy and the rest of her Sliema office were asked to quarantine as a precaution. She felt symptoms in the first week of isolation and booked a test immediately.
A week later, she got tested at one of Malta’s drive-through centres. The PCR test came out negative.
Her office asked her to undergo another one before returning to her office. At this point, Sammy lost her sense of taste, smell and had severe flu symptoms.
Still, a second PCR test came out negative. Three and a half weeks into self-isolation, her symptoms cleared and she took a third COVID-19 test, which turned out negative again.
Upon her boss’ advice, McEleny decided to book an antigen test at a private hospital.
It detected COVID-19 antibodies in her blood, which meant she did have the virus at some point.
“Having the results of the antibody tests was actually such a relief,” McEleny continued. “I was feeling so unwell, I was treated like I had COVID-19 but didn’t know whether I had it. I wasn’t sure if I should’ve gone out or not, but I decided to remain inside because I was afraid.”
But beyond her own relief, McEleny wants this to be a lesson for the public.
“My worry is people are not taking these COVID-19 tests with a pinch of salt. That if they come out negative, people think they can carry on as usual. I’ve even heard of people who receive a positive test, and after three days of ‘feeling better’, take another test that comes out negative, and then go out.”
“I’m not telling this story to shed the health system in a bad light because this is happening everywhere not just here in Malta. But just because you have a negative result doesn’t mean you are ok. Imagine if I listened to my results instead of my boss. I could have been out there spreading it!”
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