CARPHA turnaround time for COVID tests consistent with no results pending

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CARPHA turnaround time for COVID tests consistent with no results pending

Friday, August 14, 2020

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML), the regional reference laboratory, says that to date, the number of samples with more than a 48-hour turnaround time as well as pending samples remain at zero.

The agency commenced testing for suspected COVID-19 cases in February and pledged to deliver results within 24-48 hours of receipt. It has so far tested 13,815 samples and continues to conduct tests for 18 of its 26 member states.

The agency noted that backlogs and prolonged wait times can complicate efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.

It added that a delay in test results can mean a setback for public health authorities to decide on a course of action — to implement contact tracing, provide appropriate care and guidance, or to inform someone that they have not contracted the virus.

“CARPHA continues to adhere to good laboratory practices that produce accurate results. Our testing strategies and cadre of well-trained staff work to ensure that there is no backlog for tests or pending results. We know that timely reporting of laboratory results is important as it can make a difference to Member States,” said Dr Gabriel Gonzalez-Escobar, Head of Laboratory Services and Networks at CARPHA.

Dr Escobar further stated: “The CMML remains committed to delivering prompt COVID-19 results to the Region. In the case of the COVID-19 laboratory emergency response, once a sample is received from a designated national public health laboratory, we issue the result within 24-48 hours.”

In June 2020, the CMML received a total of 3,250 samples, representing an average of more than 150 samples per business day. This, it said, was the largest number of samples processed in a month, and a notable achievement in the history of the organisation.


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