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A mechanic from South Trinidad is raising questions about the operations of a private lab where he was swabbed for COVID-19 and received a negative result.

The man said he was swabbed later the same day by the Ministry of Health and received a positive result.

He agreed to speak with Guardian Media under the condition of anonymity, saying he was fearful of losing his job for speaking out.

The man said he came into contact with someone who had all the symptoms of COVID-19.

He tried to get tested at a health centre but said he was told he would have to wait until that person’s result came back.

When the person was tested positive, he was instructed to go to a health centre to be swabbed. But he said his place of employment sent him to a medical facility in South Trinidad, where they paid for him to be tested.

“I went to the private facility, got swabbed and then went to the health centre, where they swabbed me again,” he said.

He was given a negative result on a rapid antigen test kit at the private facility.

But days later, he was contacted by Ministry of Health officials who said he had tested positive for the virus.

“I was home at the time that I got back the positive result from the ministry. It was very confusing because the private lab is saying negative and the ministry is saying positive. It was very confusing to me, I didn’t know who to believe,” he said.

The man sent a copy of the letter detailing his results to Guardian Media. He said he had no symptoms of the virus despite being in contact with a positive patient but he was in quarantine at his home.

“This situation is madness. Imagine if I didn’t go to the ministry for a test after getting a negative result at the private facility, I could have been going to work, to the supermarket, all over and infecting people,” he said.

He said false negative results can lead to the virus being spread more rapidly.

“Somebody needs to talk to these people, warn them and let them know this is very dangerous. This is how the virus can spread more and get out of control.”

He said he wanted to share his story because when he visited the private testing centre there were people in over a dozen vehicles waiting to be tested in the drive-through testing station.

Guardian Media contacted the director of the private facility but he declined to comment, saying he wanted to meet this reporter in person to verify who he was speaking to before he could comment.

He also asked for the identity of the patient and when he was told it was an anonymous report, he said he could not comment any further. (SR)