A TOTAL of 147 Musgrove Park Hospital patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 may have been incorrectly diagnosed, it has emerged.

The hospital has already contacted 78 people whose swabs were analysed on a fast track machine between May 27 and June 4.

It is now in the process of getting in touch with a further 69 patients who also tested positive between May 7, when the machine was first used, and May 27.

Dr Daniel Meron, chief medical officer for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove, revealed yesterday (Wednesday) that alarm bells began to ring after a higher than expected number of patients tested positive for coronavirus.

A laboratory manager noticed on June 4 that there had been an unexplained increase of positive tests recorded by the fast track machine.

Swabs still held at Musgrove were quickly retested, which indicated that there had been a number of "false positive results".

Dr Meron said: "We have therefore contacted the 78 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 after their swabs were analysed on the fast track machine between 27 May and 4 June to explain to them what has happened and that it is possible that they may have been incorrectly diagnosed, to understand the impact this may have had on them, to offer them subsequent testing and to say how sorry we are.

"We have also forensically checked to see if those particular swabs were used before 27 May and we have found that a small number may have been.

"Therefore, as a precaution, we are in the process of contacting the 69 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 having tested positive on the fast track machine from 7 May when the machine came into use and the 27 May."

Dr Meron added: "We understand that this issue may concern patients and families and want to publicly apologise to them and thank them for being so understanding.

"We can also reassure them, and members of the public, that patients who test positive for COVID-19 are cared for in single rooms or in intensive care to the highest infection control standards, that we have notified the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the incident, and that to our knowledge this machine is the only one of its kind in use in the South West.

"We are contacting everyone who is affected so please do not worry if you do not hear from us.

"Please continue to follow the advice you receive from your healthcare professional and the national advice to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

"Once again, our heartfelt apologies go to all those patients and their families who are affected."

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