MoH debunks false rumours of contaminated COVID-19 tests

−Test kits, equipment certified for use

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 21, 2020

The Ministry of Health has discredited a rumour that is attempting to falsely claim that test kits used to conduct COVID-19 tests are contaminated. In a release issued to the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr, Frank Anthony described the allegation as “deliberate, irresponsible and reckless.”

The false campaign began after 70 new cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed on Thursday and erroneously claimed that the test kits arrived from China already contaminated thus rendering a test sample positive for COVID-19.

Minister Anthony stated, There are no fake tests in the national system and no country is sending contaminated tests to Guyana.”

The release also clarified that the batch of test kits currently being used was supplied by PAHO/WHO. Additionally, COVID-19 tests are being conducted in Guyana with kits, equipment and reagents validated by relevant certifying agencies.

“Besides working with PAHO/WHO, Guyana is working closely with our counterparts in other Caribbean countries and with the Caribbean Public Health Agency which is headquartered in Trinidad. Guyana is working closely also with counterparts the USA, Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.” Minister Anthony further explained.

The health minister indicated that there is a complement of well-trained Medical Technologists who play no small role in running these tests and this will continually be expanded as more and more of these professionals are being trained.

 “Thirty Guyanese medical technologists are in training and will be certified this week as trained for COVID-19 testing, using the same equipment used in Barbados and other Caribbean countries and in the United States and other developed countries.”

Just under three weeks ago, the Ministry ramped-up testing with the aim of processing at least 300 samples daily. The previous amount of 30 test samples per day was insufficient to correctly determine the actual COVID-19 situation in the country in terms of the number of positive cases.

The release noted that the increase in positive COVID-19 cases at present is largely the consequence of the Government’s effort to increase testing. “This means cases previously undetected because of low testing rates are now being detected. As we are able to detect cases faster, Guyana will be able to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19 faster. But this depends on all of us working together, each of us playing our role in the fight against COVID-19”.

The release also noted that the National Public Health Reference Laboratory is currently operating three shifts, which allows for more test samples to be processed.  And by month-end, more PCR machines will  be added to the machine currently being used.

“Guyana for the first time was able to conduct 208 tests, the first time Guyana surpassed 200 tests in a day on Wednesday, August 19. On Thursday, August 20, Guyana completed 248 tests. By early next week, Guyana will reach for the first time 300 tests in a day.” Minister Anthony said

As this is taking place, the Health Ministry is reminding citizens to do their part in helping to minimise the transmission of COVID-19, by adhering to the health protocols.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.