HEALTH MINISTER, Dr. Frank Anthony, has reported that the ministry has recorded over 100,000 COVID-19 tests during the first half of the year, even as the countrywide vaccination campaign is ongoing.
During Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, Dr. Anthony said that Guyana’s testing capacity has significantly increased since the PPP/C Government took office. This, he said, has led to the detection of more positive cases.
In 2020, only 38,000 tests were conducted, when compared to 100,000 in the first half of 2021.
Minister Anthony said there are three types of tests that detect the deadly disease. In addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, point of care testing using gene expert machines and antigen testing are also being used to diagnose positive cases.
The National Public Health Reference Laboratory has the capacity to conduct 2,000 PCR tests per day, with approximately 96 samples processed every three hours.
“We have improved the capacity tremendously from when we were struggling to do about 21 tests per day and you use to get that back in seven to eight hours.
“We are now able to increase the processing time and also the number of tests we can do because we have automated that process. Most of the time, we get between 300 to 400 PCR per day and we are able to comfortably handle that,” the minister said.
He also noted that the full capacity of the laboratory has not yet been utilised.
In addition to the Government, several private institutions have been granted permission to offer PCR testing. These include the Eureka Medical Laboratory, Coastal Diagnostics and Sherriff Medical.
The regional testing capacity has also been boosted with the installation of point-of-care testing at regional hospitals in Regions One, Six, Nine and 10.
“We are able to do testing, rather than wait until the next day to send the sample in. If there’s an emergency that you need to know what’s happening with this patient, you can run those tests. So those are point-of-care testing and there’s PCR testing so they’re extremely accurate,” the minister said.
At some sites, particularly in hinterland areas, antigen tests are conducted for faster results, as the process takes approximately 20 minutes. However, these tests are not as accurate as the PCR which is the global gold standard for COVID tests. (DPI)