Covid: Challenges arise as persons flock Govt testing sites but Minister says results should be returned promptly

A Covid-19 testing site at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony today admitted that authorities are facing challenges as persons continue to flock government testing sites amid the Omicron surge but he contended that the processing of samples takes a few hours and therefore, persons should get their results within a short period of time.

During today’s update on the novel coronavirus situation in the country, the Health Minister was asked to respond to situations whereby persons who have tested at government facilities are waiting as much as ten days before they get back their results.

“I don’t know where they’re getting a timeframe of ten days, we’re able to process PCR in a much faster way and in fact with the equipment that we have, we can process PCR within a 2-4-hour period, so I’m not sure where they’re getting that timeframe from,” Dr Anthony said.

According to information received by this publication, when persons get tested at government facilities, they are informed to isolate themselves until the results are returned to them within three days. However, this is not always the case as some people end up waiting a much longer time.

Nevertheless, the Health Minister said authorities are facing a challenge with persons flocking testing sites.

“We’ve had a challenge since we’ve had the Omicron surge, as soon as somebody’s infected, well not even infected, if there’s somebody who is tested positive, let’s say in a work environment, then all the co-workers, whether they have been directly exposed or not, everybody immediately want to be tested.”

“And they show up at our sites, and when they do so, they are putting an undue burden on the testing system,’ he explained.

In this regard, the Minister reminded that testing too early can prevent persons from knowing their true status. Dr Anthony had previously recommended that persons wait at least five days after a potential exposure before getting tested. The only exception, he had noted, is if they start to experience symptoms.

“You have to wait, there’s a window period for you to wait and if you test before that window period, obviously it’s going to be negative…people need to understand that if they truly want to understand their status whether negative or positive, they must first of all quarantine for a couple of days, and then come to do the test,” Dr Anthony reiterated.

“So, if it’s a PCR test that you’re doing then, at least that waiting time should be about four days, if it is the antigen test that you’re using, then antigen works best when the person is symptomatic,” the Minister further explained.

Meanwhile, the surge in cases continues with 1019 new infections recorded in the last 24-hours. This takes the total active cases to 7613.

So far, 415,611 or 81 per cent of adults have received a first dose of a Covid vaccine while 301,918 or 58.9 per cent have received both doses of the Covid vaccine.

For children 12 to 17, 31,333 or 43 per cent have received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccines while 22,193 or 30.4 per cent have received both doses.

For booster doses, 20,713 persons have received their jabs.