Health officials seek to clear backlog of COVID-19 samples in a week

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    (Image via CDC)

    There are 600 COVID-19 samples left for testing and according to Principal Medical Officer Dr Naresh Nandram these should be cleared by this time next week.

    His statement comes as members of the public complain about long wait times for results – a situation Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is apologizing for this morning.

    To deal with the backlog, Dr Nandram says a private lab has agreed to assist with testing the 600 samples.

    He believes that by this time next week, T&T should be back to the original speed of reporting on tests.

    He says while 600 samples is within the daily capacity, the backlog will take a few days to clear due to the fact that samples continue to be submitted every day.

    Meanwhile, Dr Nandram says the following steps are being taken to help with speeding up testing:

    • The digital network of the Trinidad Public Health Lab is being expanded to all regional health authorities. This is expected to remove the paper-based communication between hospitals and labs. He says this is as closed to real time reporting.
    • Also at TPHL, approval and funding has been granted for a new machine, while a proposal has been made for a new machine at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex
    • Seeking to have labs run on a 24-hour basis
    • Awaiting green light from CARPHA to have the Medical Research Foundation begin testing – feedback expected this weekend.

    The Health Minister also says capacity at quarantine facilities are being ramped up including an additional 110 beds at UWI Penal/Debe.

    Mr Deyalsingh is also calling for more public cooperation noting that while facilities are not overwhelmed, the human resource (doctors etc) is finite and subject to burnout.

    He warns that incidents such as a 32-person party shut down by police recently can cause this part of the system to be overwhelmed.