Sep 21, 2020 News
Now that the backlog of COVID-19 test results has been cleared, Guyanese will be able to receive their test results within 48 hours, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony disclosed during the COVID-19 update on Friday.
Anthony stated that these results will be from the most recent testing conducted. Presently, samples being sent to the Nation Public Health Reference Laboratory are being managed and processed promptly. The minimum time for processing of test samples is 28 hours and the maximum is 48 hours according to the Minister.
“At one point, we had a large backlog and that was when we were doing more broad scale testing and so because of that backlog, we had to reduce the number of testing that we did for those persons who would just walk in and who felt like they want to have a test without being in contact with persons exposed or so,” Anthony said.
Just recently, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) testing unit at the East Street entrance started sending persons displaying no symptoms of the virus to other facilities to get tested. This was in light of the major backlog of over 1,000 tests that the Ministry was working to combat.
One of the hospital officials related that it was not a case where they were neglecting persons who did not display symptoms; they were just prioritizing the testing of those persons who were showing symptoms of the virus. Persons who were not showing COVID-19 symptoms were referred to the Ministry of Health’s office on Brickdam to have their tests conducted.
After taking office, Minister Anthony highlighted that it was a case of more tests being conducted producing more positive cases. Before his administration went into government, there was a low number of tests being conducted daily, but now around 300 tests are being conducted daily according to the Minister.
At his Budget Debate 2020 presentation, Minister Anthony noted that the Ministry would have trained more staff to increase the testing of samples. He also stated that previously there was just one shift of workers working in the lab, but now there are three shifts of workers trying to produce timely results.
Other efforts to reduce the backlog of cases included sending test samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago for testing.
An initial batch of 500 samples was sent to clear a backlog of 1900 COVID-19 test samples. Later, another batch of 138 samples was sent following the return of the first batch of samples.
The Minister also engaged in talks with officials from Roraima, Brazil about conducting testing of samples taken in Region Nine, given the availability of a lab and Roraima’s proximity to the region.
This talk came after it was discovered that the delivery of timely test results in the region was being hampered by the lengthy transportation process of samples from Region Nine to the National Reference Lab in Georgetown.
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