Way cleared for private labs in T&T to start testing for COVID-19; Guyana yet to move in this direction

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Blood sample with respiratory coronavirus positive

Private medical laboratories across Trinidad and Tobago are now being encouraged to begin performing tests for the coronavirus (COVID-19), but Guyana, with daily rising positive cases and deaths, is yet to move in this direction.

At a press conference in Port of Spain today, that country’s Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, said that once the CARPHA-certified labs were equipped with the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines, they could proceed, once validated by CARPHA.

Deyalsingh said these private lab tests may see a rise in the number of confirmed cases, the Express reported.

The Trinidad’s Ministry of Health had held the position that private labs could not performed the tests since they were not certified by CARPHA.

The new regulations that came into effect today requires that the private labs, certified by CARPHA, report the findings of the test, to the Chief Medical Officer and not the individual.

Guyana’s former shadow Public Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, a few days ago, called on the Government here to tap into the resources of the private health sector to boost its testing capacity for COVID-19.

Shadow Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

Dr Anthony is one of the key stakeholders in the National COVID-19 Response Forum that was established by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to aid in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Public Health Ministry had recently stated that efforts were being made to have the necessary lab equipment available in order to increase the number of tests being done.

However, Dr Anthony explained that many of the private hospitals and laboratories in Guyana have the human capacity as well as the equipment readily available, as such, they just need to get the supplies in order to conduct tests for COVID-19 themselves.

According to Dr Anthony, currently, if any of these private health institutions need a test conducted then they first have to seek permission from the Public Health Ministry, and some of these requests have been denied.

Dr Anthony had stressed that these private hospitals must be able to get testing for the deadly virus done immediately since delays with this can endanger the lives of not just the patients but the medical professionals as well.

According to Dr Anthony, in both the public and private health sectors, people are not getting access to COVID-19 testing readily.