Ministry of Health considering rapid testing for COVID-19

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands yesterday revealed that more than 300 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in The Bahamas, noting that the government is considering the introduction of rapid testing.

“We are exploring the introduction of rapid testing,” he said.

“The first step in the process will require in-country validation of these rapid serological tests.

“That process is ongoing and once it is complete, wider screening for COVID-19 at the community level will commence. We have more than 10,000 rapid kits in country at this time.”

During a communication in Parliament, Sands said, “Testing is an essential tool and a critical part of our in-country strategy. The molecular PCR testing is the gold standard here, regionally and around the world.

“To date, we have done more than 300 molecular tests have been completed in-country on samples from persons who meet the testing criteria.

“We have moved rapidly to introduce molecular testing in-country. A month ago, these tests would have been sent to Trinidad or to the CDC in the United States to be run. They are now run in The Bahamas and within the next week, in spite of the world demand, we expect to have added equipment to duplicate our ability to provide PCR testing. “

Sands noted PCR testing — also known as molecular testing — requires evidence of an infectious agent, a genetic material of the virus, and swab samples from the nose and throat of a suspected COVID-19 patient.

He said there are “real constraints to upscaling molecular testing”.

“Quite simply, there is not an unlimited supply of test kits, swabs and human resources in the National Reference Laboratory,” Sands said.

“Facing similar issues and with insightful forethought, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China extended its kind hand of generosity by donating 1,000 test kits to assist the government of The Bahamas with confirmation of suspected COVID-19 cases; these are molecular or PCR test kits.

“And so, on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Health wishes to express its deep appreciation to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and to the people of China. These test kits will go a long way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. “

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