What does it mean if I have a negative test result?

A negative PCR test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. For COVID-19, a negative PCR test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms usually means that COVID-19 did not cause your recent illness.

However, it is possible for this PCR test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative) in some people with COVID-19. This means that you could possibly still have COVID-19 even though the PCR test is negative. If this is the case, your healthcare provider will consider the PCR test result together with all other aspects of your medical history (such as symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location of places you have recently traveled) in deciding how to care for you.

Negative rapid antigen test results are presumptive and confirmation with a molecular assay, if necessary, for patient management may be performed. Negative rapid antigen test results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions. Negative rapid antigen test results should be considered in the context of a patient’s recent exposures, history and the presence of clinical signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

It is important that you work with your healthcare provider to help you understand the next steps you should take.