Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says a decision will be taken on the country’s position as it relates to the use of the rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) test, following a meeting with health experts next week.
These will include representatives from the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), the National Public Health Laboratory along with other external personnel.
“It is a conversation that is being had. There are some informal arrangements currently, we know, in the country where some persons are administering it (rapid test) and there are different varieties or manufacturers. But there is some value in the use of both antigen and antibody testing as well as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which we’re using now,” he said.
The Minister, who was speaking at the COVID Conversations press briefing on Thursday (September 10), said that Ministry will be informed in its decision by the discussion, along with the protocols established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
“So, I do anticipate that we will have a much clearer position and this is the right time to have that position. I know it’s a discussion that has been happening for some time, but there are a number of elements that have gone into how we have approached, to date, the testing protocols. But I think there is a need now to expand that, and the conversation will allow for that to ensure that all are on the same page,” he noted.
In the meantime, the Minister said ongoing consultations with stakeholders on the new protocols governing the community transmission phase will continue into next week as the Ministry concretises a comprehensive plan, which will represent the shift in the current approach.
“This will include testing protocols and the shifts that take place there, the workplace protocols, the communication and public education, the clinical management, the infection prevention and control protocols, ports of entry management, and the community intervention,” he noted.
“What we are doing now is consulting with stakeholders to sign off on these new approaches, helping those critical stakeholders to understand what the shift represents and why it is necessary,” he added.