HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is hoping that additional medical supplies to treat covid19 will arrive in TT soon.
At a virtual news conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said with respect to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine needed to test for covid19 cases, “I did indicate that because of flight disruptions, we can’t get the extractor kits into TT right now.” On when the kits will arrive, he said, “We are working through several channels.” He added, “I am told – don’t hold me to this – I am told in the next ten to 14 days, we may get some extraction kits.
“Once we do that, we will be able to ramp up testing at North Central (Regional Health Authority).
“There are now four PCR machines in TT. But only the one at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has been validated. Once this happens, TT can potentially carry out up to 1,000 tests per day. The machines are located primarily in the northern part of the island – at Carpha’s head office in Port of Spain, the Medical Research Foundation, and Trinidad Public Health Lab, also in Port of Spain. The newest machine has been sent to the South West Regional Health Authority to facilitate testing in south Trinidad.”
Deyalsingh also said the ministry will allow people to do covid19 tests “absolutely free of charge” at CARPHA. But he added the ministry has “no control over the private sector.” He explained, “The control we have is getting them certified by CARPHA and doing the protocols for reporting to the Ministry of Health.”
On Tuesday, Deyalsingh encouraged private medical labs to approach CARPHA for certification to do covid19 tests. He said theywill be required to report any positive covid19 results directly to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and not the patients. Failure to do so, Deyalsingh said, will result in the labs facing a penalty of $50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
On Tuesday, CMO Dr Roshan Parasram said three people had received false-positive results at private labs and after they were retested with PCR kits, CARPHA produced negative results.
“There are no labs we can recommend for testing right now,” he said. “More concerning is that they may have had people go to a private lab, got a negative test, feeling it’s fine – and go about their lives.” He said this could cause an alarming rate of spread.
He asked labs to offer a reasonable price for testing, as a test can cost around U$1,000. Tests done by CARPHA are free. It has been reported that a test at private labs costs between $600 and $1,000.