800 COVID-19 tests were awaiting processing

Roughly 800 COVID-19 tests were still awaiting processing as of Friday, health officials advised.

“Those results are being reported on a daily basis,” Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr. Nikkiah Forbes said on Friday.

“Our task at the Ministry of Health in the coming week and the weeks thereafter will be to analyze this information and to see when those patients were sampled and how does that fit into the epidemiological curve.”

Yesterday, when asked whether that backlog was reduced over the weekend, Forbes told The Nassau Guardian, “They are working on clearing it, but I have not heard the amount left in back[log] tests.”

The Ministry of Health has been challenged with the processing of COVID-19 tests. That challenge has been attributed to the increased national testing amid a worsening pandemic.

Five hundred samples were received on August 8, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan.

“Herein is our challenge,” she said on Friday.

“We are receiving samples above which the capacity is for us to test. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however – the Princess Margaret Hospital lab has performed an independent verification of the test performance on their two molecular instruments.

“As of today, we will begin the COVID-19 testing of suspected cases and contacts of suspected contacts of cases. These two tests will provide support to the national effort for the identification of COVID-19-positive cases.

“With the new test systems, we now have access to a larger volume testing capacity in country; up to 1,000 samples per day.”

As of Friday, the National Reference Lab had performed 665 tests in the last seven days, McMillan said.

She said the positivity rate was about 22 percent.

“Now, I also alluded to our challenge with testing and our delayed testing,” McMillan said.

“What we are currently reporting to you through our lab output are likely results from about 14 days ago.

“Well, not really 14 days ago, but certainly we are delayed by six days, four to five days. We will continue to see that kind of a spike in our cases but it will not be a true true reflection of the as is now.

“As we enhance our capacity for testing and have a higher throughput, we will be in a better position to characterize what is actually happening now.”

So far, 7,639 tests have been completed in The Bahamas, according to the latest Ministry of Health dashboard.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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