Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, said yesterday that the COVID-19 test backlog at the National Reference Laboratory has been eliminated.
Her comments come just over a week after Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, said 800 tests were awaiting processing at the lab.
“Today, I am very pleased to report that the backlog at the National Reference Lab has been eliminated,” Dahl-Regis said during a Ministry of Health press conference.
She added, “An early task was to address the backlog. Many qualified volunteers were recruited to assist with sample processing and data entry. Additional equipment was secured and a total of 220 backlogged samples were outsourced to the Doctors Hospital lab for testing.”
Dahl-Regis said measures were
implemented to prevent a backlog from reoccurring.
“The Ministry of Health has revised and communicated the COVID-19 testing policy and priority; enforced the requirement to complete documentation of lab forms; and has recommitted to stricter adherence to case definition and testing protocols,” she said.
“Additional measures include digital data entry at the time of swabbing; timely identification of cases; timely identification of contacts; and testing capacity has been increased.”
She said testing is also being carried out at Princess Margaret Hospital’s microbiology lab.
Dahl-Regis said testing will also “soon be possible” at the South Beach Health Centre on New Providence and at the lab on Grand Bahama.
“Turnaround time for results will be monitored,” she said.
“It is anticipated that the turnaround time will not exceed 36 hours.”
She noted that tests have “increased significantly” during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting more than 300 samples daily.
So far, 10,170 tests have been completed in The Bahamas.