Gov’t  to ramp up Covid-19 testing 

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…says true picture of infections in Guyana not known

With his entire cabinet at risk of contracting the Covid-19 disease due to their exposure to the Foreign Affairs Minister who has been tested positive for the virus, the Irfaan-Ali government is looking to ramp up testing countrywide to get a true picture of Guyana’s numbers.

Minister Dr Frank Anthony: Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony

On Wednesday Ali ordered that all his ministers work remotely after Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd was tested positive for the disease. Todd had interacted with his colleagues ministers all of whom have since been tested for the virus.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, said 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, according to Department of Public Information  release.

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Equipping the regions to do more testing allows for an accurate representation of COVID-19 cases.
The Health Minister further explained that many of the new cases are asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic, which present 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, DPI reported.

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 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.



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