After testing positive for COVID-19 seven times, a Cambridge, Ont., woman was relieved to hear that her eighth test came back negative.
“I cried because I was so happy,” says Tracy Schofield.
But that feeling didn’t last long.
In order to be considered recovered from the virus, patients must receive two negative results within a 24-hour period.
Schofield was swabbed for a ninth time, and once again she tested positive for COVID-19.
She started experiencing symptoms back on March 30, with a fever, chills, a headache and difficulty breathing. The next day she got her first COVID-19 tests, which eventually came back positive.
Schofield spent two weeks self-isolating at home, with only her 17-year-old son there to help. She says her temperature rose to 40.1 C, she could barely get out of bed and she even lost her sense of smell and taste.
While most of her symptoms have improved, some are still an issue.
“I still to this day have shortness of breath,” she says. “COVID-19 has taken a lot out of me, and it continues every day.”
It’s now been 50 days since Schofield first tested positive for the virus.
Eight of those tests have been positive, and only one negative.
Schofield says she has no underlying health concerns and worries that COVID-19 could cause long-term problems.
“I just want someone to be able to tell me something,” she says. “Give me an answer. Am I going to have it forever?”
Brian Dixon, an immunology professor at the University of Waterloo, says it’s not unusual to get a false negative on tests.
“You’re only giving a small sample from your body,” he explains. “So it may have been that they just missed it on that case. That’s why they do it twice. They want to be sure that they caught the right sample and you are negative.”
Dixon says everyone reacts differently to the virus, adding that some may be infected longer than others.
“It’s hard to say what’s normal,” he says. “We all have a particular immune system that’s individual.”
Since Schofield first shared her story with CTV News last week, she’s been contacted by others who are in the same situation.
“It’s comforting to know that they’re out there and they’ve contacted me,” she says. “I’m hoping just telling my story is helping them too, because they know they’re not alone either.”
Schofield now has to wait five more days until she can get tested again, for the 10th time.