Ramping up COVID-19 tests will expose true infection numbers – Minister Anthony
— no region is immune to COVID-19
— Ministry of Health to train more lab technicians to improve testing capacity
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, August 13, 2020
Guyanese can have more confidence in the efforts being made by the PPP/C Administration to produce an improved response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, revealed that Guyana’s testing capacity will be robustly ramped up to ensure an effective response can be had. With increased levels of testing, the Minister said, Guyana will see more positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Within the last week, we have started to do more testing. We have streamlined the laboratory to ensure that we can do more testing and we have placed more testing kits in the various Regions,” Minister Anthony disclosed.
Equipping the regions to do increased testing allows for a more accurate representation of COVID-19 cases.
The Health Minister further explained that many of the new cases are asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic, which presents an issue to health authorities who have been vigorously contact-tracing persons who may have been exposed to the virus.
He posited that residents of Regions 2, 5 and 6 have been given false security, by being led to believe that their regions are COVID-19 free.
Instead, the Minister clarified that there was, in reality, a testing deficit in these regions and when the new PPP/C Administration began their tenure, they immediately ramped up testing in Region 2, unearthing several positive cases.
This was confirmed through PCR testing. More testing in these areas, he noted, may result in positive asymptomatic cases being confirmed.
The Health Minister warned that the virus is complex and no region or person is immune, especially since people have been travelling from one place to another frequently, increasing the possibility of infection.
The Ministry of Health, under the leadership of Dr.Anthony, will be seeking to continually expand Guyana’s testing capacity for COVID-19. The new government has already addressed the issue of limited testing kits. This will eventually allow for a decentralised approach to having COVID-19 tests done.
“We need to decentralise because it takes, sometimes, eight days for someone in Region Nine, who had a swab taken to get to Georgetown and then to be tested at the Reference Lab, and the results returned to them… We have to change that,” Minister Anthony noted in a previous interview.
He disclosed that just a few persons were initially trained to conduct COVID-19 tests; which is insufficient to achieve the set goal of having the public sector process 300 PCR tests daily. Therefore, more laboratory technicians will be trained to meet the growing need for tests.