The rationale behind conducting self-isolation in this scenario is that the test results could be inaccurate since the incubation period of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is between five and 14 days of exposure.
Hence, antigen tests will be more effective if the test is conducted on the fifth day after close contact with COVID-19 patients.
"For example, today you are in contact with a COVID-19-positive patient. If you receive a negative antigen test result, it does not mean you are not infected. Think further. It could be that the virus is still in incubation," Ratna explained during a webinar on Saturday.
At the Indonesian Association of Traditional and Herbal Medicine Developers (PDPOTJI) webinar, Ratna highly recommended close contacts of COVID-19 patients to isolate themselves, given the virus' two-week incubation period.
During self-isolation, close contacts should try as much as possible to not crowd or meet their family in order to minimize the potential of COVID-19 transmission, she emphasized.
Citing an example, Ratna noted that after finding out, a young man, who was in close contact with a COVID-19 patient from his workplace, isolated himself for five days and was reported COVID-19 negative in the antigen test.
After knowing about the negative results, the man decided to meet his friends and family. However, on the tenth day, he experienced symptoms, such as fever and nausea. In the end, after retaking the test, he was found positive for COVID-19.
Based on the case example, it is highly recommended for close contacts of COVID-19 patients to conduct self-isolation despite the negative antigen test results.
Ratna suggested that in order to get effective COVID-19 test results, the people should undergo RT-PCR testing to check for the presence of the COVID-19 virus in their bodies.
If the test results are positive, then people are advised to immediately contact the nearest community health center (Puskesmas) or use telemedicine services to get effective COVID-19 treatment.