Roughly 600 people have been tested for COVID-19 so far, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.
He said they expect a few hundred more people to be tested by the end of this week.
“So, those persons who are more high risk, we have been testing first,” he said.
“And so, as we liberalize the indications for testing, we will see more people getting tested. So, as of yesterday, I believe we were probably up to some 600 and so tests. And we expect to get perhaps several hundred more by the end of the week.
“It’s making sure that every single step along the way that you have the swabs, that you have the viral media, that you [have] the test kits, that you have the reagents for the lab, that you have the personnel, the transportation to get it from the Family Islands to New Providence and so on and so forth.
“And some of it may require that we expand how we do it and potentially use other reference laboratories in other countries.”
So far, there have been 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.
Last week, Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS & Infectious Diseases Programme at the Ministry of Health, said the lack of widespread testing has contributed to the high case fatality rate seen in The Bahamas.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced Monday night that the Ministry of Health will expand its COVID-19 testing this week, predicting that this will lead to an increase in the number of cases in The Bahamas, and therefore a decrease in the case fatality rate.
Sands said testing is only one challenge facing the health care system in the country during the COVID-19 crisis. Last week, he indicated that the government was having difficulty finding isolation chambers large enough to transport some Bahamians from the Family Islands to New Providence.
Sands said the problem hasn’t been rectified yet. He said there are currently six isolation chambers on New Providence.
“They make them in a certain size and you take what you can get,” he said.
“And we are looking into seeing whether we can have some custom-made, but obviously that is a very different process. And in the meantime, we have to plan a different approach. These are the real challenges facing us. We can hope and wish that it was not the case, but if you can only get certain things in certain sizes…”
He added, “Purchasing medical equipment and supplies is not as simple as purchasing clothes. There are only limited suppliers that make supplies for the morbidly obese, the super obese, etc.”