Lab Error Could Have Resulted in False Positive COVID-19 Results

Written by Communications, May 1, 2020

Peterborough Public Health Advising Retesting of Affected Individuals

Peterborough Public Health (PPH) was notified today from BioTest Laboratories in Ottawa that a technical error has resulted in a decision by the lab to reject all 94 COVID-19 positive test results performed last weekend, including 22 specimens from local residents. There is a concern that these results may have been falsely positive.

Public Health Ontario is aware of the situation and has discontinued, for now, sending any more specimens to BioTest Laboratories for COVID testing.

“Peterborough Public Health has been significantly impacted by this lab event,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “Our staff has worked swiftly to ensure those impacted are informed and retested as we want to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Salvaterra explained that 22 of 27 positive cases reported for the period of April 22 to 29 were processed at BioTest and will now require further testing to determine their validity. Unfortunately, one person is now deceased. PPH will engage Public Health Ontario’s guidance and support for any potential changes to our COVID-19 reporting.

PPH has already contacted all 21 individuals to advise them of the potential error and recommended they be retested. This will also impact the close contacts of these cases. PPH recommends that anyone identified as a close contact please continue their isolation and self-monitoring until the results of the retesting have been received. All contacts can expect to hear from a PPH public health nurse for further guidance.

There is no reason to question the validity of any negative results from Bio Test.

PPH has updated its website to advise the public that the current case count may be inaccurate and will be revised as results from retesting become available.

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence, Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391