COVID-19 test results now available in 24 – 48 hours – Health Minister
− backlog cleared
– tests, results for frontline workers prioritised
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, says people tested for COVID-19 can now receive their results within two days.
He made the disclosure on Friday during an update on measures to counter the pandemic.
“Right now, we have a manageable set of samples that come in every day and we are able to process these in a timely manner. In 24-48 hours, we are able to get those samples out,” Minister Anthony said.
This is due to several interventions made to widen and improve the testing capacity at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory. That included training more medical technologists to conduct the test and the implementation of a three-shift system so the laboratory operates on a 24-hour basis.
“All three shifts work. If there is a heavy load and if there is a lighter work load, then the shifts are reduced depending on the samples,” the Minister said.
In August, when there was a backlog of samples, the Ministry had restricted testing to symptomatic persons and those who may have been in contact or exposed to a person who tested positive for the disease. Walk-in patients were urged to follow preventative guidelines and to self-quarantine until a period of time had elapsed and they showed no severe signs or symptoms.
Hospitalised persons who were never tested for COVID-19 were given priority in securing a test and obtaining their results. Frontline workers are being prioritised for tests and results as they are among those likely to have been exposed to positive cases.
The Ministry will activate its agreement with the Caribbean Public Health Agency to assist with testing should there be a high influx of samples.
An agreement is also in place with health officials in Brazil to test samples from Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine).