SVGs Health Ministry Aiming At Expansive Covid-19 Testing

BDemion McTair. Updated 1:42 p.m., Thursday, 23 April 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4)

Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – The Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Senator Luke Browne said today (April 23) the ministry wants to make Covid-19 testing in the country “as expansive as possible”.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister said “we had a positive development along these lines which suggests that certainly by sometime next week, we might be in a position to have our own machine, our own PCR machine in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and start testing, even after we factor in a period of training”.

So, perhaps within a week’s time or so, we would be able to commence testing locally in St. Vincent and the Grenadines if everything goes according to plan” – he added.

Currently, St. Vincent and the Grenadines cannot perform PCR testing, the highly reliable testing for Covid-19 and, relies mainly on the Caribbean Public Health Agency – CARPHA lab to conduct PCR tests for Covid-19.

Some 3,000 antibody rapid tests were donated to the country by Venezuela but these devices are often used for initial screening due to their 85 percent accuracy rate which is less than the PCR accuracy rate.

The health minister said the ministry is not satisfied with number of Covid-19 tests done so far in the country.

“We have so far tested 101 persons, we are doing reasonably okay by regional standards, however, we are not satisfied and we would like to be doing more tests”.

The Minister, however, spoke of the scope of the testing the ministry wants to see.

“No one is advocating that the whole population should be tested. We have to focus our testing resources on suspect cases and high risk groups.

“Instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, we should narrow our search to a rigorous investigation of persons who satisfy certain established criteria and there are many ways in which the risk profile of a particular group may be determined” -Senator Browne added.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has so far recorded 13 positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

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