An Israeli health maintenance organization (HMO) has started using a new sort of test to immediately discover coronavirus carriers even if they aren’t experiencing outward symptoms, a report said Thursday.
Patients of the Maccabi HMO can now undergo a special ultrasound test that scans their lungs and detects effects typically caused by the respiratory virus, Channel 12 reported, citing Maccabi officials.
The officials were quoted as saying the small, portable ultrasound kit called “Focus” had already helped discover several asymptomatic patients, and that several who tested negative were re-diagnosed with COVID-19.
One of them is a special education teacher who had caught the virus but was no longer showing symptoms and was cleared by a testing lab as recovered. Her test, taken out of caution before returning to work, revealed she still had the virus, according to Dr. Eran Shankar, who manages the Bnei Brak clinic.
The machine is currently in use only in virus hotspots such as the ultra-Orthodox cities of Bnei Brak and Elad, and will soon be available throughout the country, according to the report.
“The test saved the need for x-ray tests and the radiation they entail,” Shankar added. “It also prevents the patient being exposed to other patients and staff members who could get infected.”
“This capability allows us to locate the disease, especially in outbreak areas, even in people who seem to be completely healthy,” said Dr. Sharon Hermoni-Alon, head of family medicine at Maccabi.