Tufton says testing for COVID-19 adequate

Tufton says testing for COVID-19 adequate

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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HEALTH Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, in responding to scepticism regarding the extent of the testing for COVID-19, is insisting that what is now being done is adequate.

“Having reviewed the protocol, consultations with senior virologists and infection control specialists, and also guided by the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, we are of the view that testing is sufficient to date. We think we have a good sense of what is happening on the ground,” Dr Tufton said yesterday.

The health minister, who was speaking at a digital press briefing from the ministry's Corporate Area offices yesterday, said there are, however, “plans are in place to be rolled out very shortly to expand testing”.

Said the minister: “Between now and the weekend we should be in a position to roll out a mobile testing mechanism. The ministry will be rolling out mobile units which will be branded to indicate their purpose and those units will be deployed in parishes across the country.”

He said there will also be a protocol assigned to the deployment of those mobile units, where persons who desire to be tested will be subjected to that protocol in terms of a triage. If the requirements are met then samples would be collected and tests conducted.

“This will increase tests across the country and give an opportunity for persons to volunteer for testing. We have an app that will also be published that will allow persons to use a technology platform to indicate that they want to be tested,” the health minister stated. He, however, noted that the fact that persons indicate that they want to be tested did not guarantee they would be.

In the meantime, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie has said at present no private labs should be doing tests. She said at this juncture it was imperative that the testing remain centralised as health officials continue to observe the virus and trends.

“Later on [if] we have widespread community spread we may change our testing modality, but at this point testing is centralised,” she said.

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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