Covid-19 testing to be upscaled by the Ministry of Health

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Covid-19 confirmed cases still stand at 13 on island
  • Infected individuals will be retested after they have stopped showing symptoms of Covid-19
  • Rapid testing to determine percentage of population exposed to virus but remain asymptomatic

To stem the tide of Covid-19 infections, the Ministry of Health, apart from conducting their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, has included over 3,000 antibody test kits in their arsenal in the fight against Covid-19. Strategies will be announced to commence rapid testing of individuals to determine what percentage of the population may have been exposed to the virus but remain asymptomatic. Covid-19 Response Coordinator, Dr George Mitchell, disclosed the ministry’s intentions during Monday’s press conference with Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, Health Minister Hon. Nickolas Steele, and Commissioner of Police (Ag) Edvin Martin.

The SARS-COV-2 Antibody Test Kits will show whether a person has been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, and also show whether or not an individual shows lasting immunity to the disease. These test kits were among medical supplies donated by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Earlier in April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised the first antibody-based test for Covid-19 which looks for coronavirus-specific antibodies in the bloodstream that is produced once a person has contracted the virus for the first time. These antibodies might not appear until the virus has run its course and would act as protection from future infection by the same virus.

“We will be doing random testing of people who show up at our clinics and we are doing testing of people who called our hotline, so, in other words, we have been able to map out a plan that would allow the Ministry of Health to get a good picture of what is happening on the ground,” Dr Mitchell said.

Minister Steele, who is presently on Carriacou, has also indicated that all infected individuals will be retested after they have stopped showing symptoms of Covid-19. “The same test that would have been given to them in order to get a positive result needs to be done twice in a 24-hour period, and if we get 2 negative results twice in 24 hours, then we can determine that they have recovered from Covid-19. Some of them are very much close to being fully recovered but out of an abundance of caution, we are giving them that additional time but we will be testing them all.”

The Ministry of Health is pleased about successful contact tracing led by Head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Units, Dr Shawn Charles.

“We are confident that all our contact tracing has been successfully done and we have tested all of those people who were remotely or directly in contact with positive cases and those are the cases that came out negative. However, that does not give us any comfort in going forward because based on what we know of the virus, we are not going to rest for a minute to think that we have covered all our bases. But we want to be on the side of caution,” Dr Mitchell said.

Grenada’s Covid-19 confirmed cases still stand at 13 on island.

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