Yes, you can test negative but still have COVID-19. This is called a false negative. Doctors are not sure yet how often this happens. One study that has not been reviewed by other doctors yet estimates that between 2% and 15% of negative tests are false negatives. False negatives are more likely to happen very early or late in the infection.
So what does a negative test result mean for you? The WHO says that a single negative test result does not rule out COVID-19. If you have been exposed but don’t have symptoms yet, you should continue to stay home, wash your hands, and wear a cloth face covering if you must be within six feet of other people. And of course, if you do have symptoms, you should isolate yourself to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus.
Last update: April 27, 2020, 2:00 PM
Science review: JAB, ERS