MoPH mulls “ramping up” testing for COVID-19 – CMO

Mobile unit for sample collecting being considered

DPI, Guyana, Monday, April 13, 2020

The Ministry of Public Health is looking to “ramp up” testing for coronavirus in Guyana.

This will be complemented by bringing private hospitals on board to do testing as well.

“We would like to at least test all of the persons who were in contact with positive cases or who had direct or indirect contact with those cases,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud stated during an appearance on the NCN programme COVID-19 Conversations.

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Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud

To this end, Dr. Persaud detailed that there has been an expanded protocol which would allow for wider criteria being met for testing.

“Anyone who presents to any of our hospitals with what is called SARI – Severe Acute Respiratory Illness – once the doctors identify those persons special measures are instituted immediately. We are encouraging the facilities both public and private to collect a sample from those persons for testing and we are going a little further than that to try to identify some community contacts,” he explained.

It was also noted that the enhancement of testing will depend on the number of test kits available.

Guyana has had a total of 1800 test kits and as of 12 April, 193 tests have been conducted with 45 positive results. “Once we have an adequate supply of kits, I am sure we will move out to the communities,” the CMO confirmed.

Dr. Persaud also said that the ministry is considering the establishment of a mobile unit to do sample collecting while tests will continue to be done in the laboratory.

Just recently, it was disclosed that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory can process 48 samples on an eight-hour shift.

This coupled with the mobile unit, “might be able to access some of the hard to reach areas and some of the rural communities to provide for testing in those areas,” Dr Persaud noted.

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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.