CARPHA To Expand COVID-19 Testing Capabilities

Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh has announced that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will be expanding their testing capabilities in the near future.

Explaining the new measures in a media conference on Monday (Mar. 23), Deyalsingh said our positive cases are likely to go up because of the new testing criteria, since it allows those who’ve had potential exposure to the virus to be tested, LoopTT reports.

Primary contacts, which are those people who have come into direct contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, will now be tested. This includes other members of the household; so will secondary contacts and county medical officers of health.

“We are going to have expanded health care worker testing. This will be brought on stream, hopefully by the end of the week,” he said. Health care workers on the frontline will also benefit from special accommodations set up to keep them away from the general public.

Symptomatic patients who fall into the high-risk group will also be tested, even without a travel history.

The Ministry is able to accommodate more testing as they’ve procured three more testing machines scheduled to join the existing one being used now.

“At Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, we have a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine; it is going to be validated by CARPHA in the next couple of days and hopefully by the end of the week, that machine at Eric Williams will also be available to supplement what is being done at CARPHA,” he announced.

With this machine, government will be able to conduct an additional 180 tests per day.

Deyalsingh also added that another machine which was already ordered, is already in the country, and is scheduled to come on stream within a few weeks. The Minister says in order to have that machine operational, a technician from the company it belongs to would also need to be flown in.

With our borders being closed as of Sunday night, the technician will benefit from a special exemption and be flown in on a private jet which is being sponsored by a corporate donor.

This machine will be located at the Public Health Laboratory, which shares a compound with CARPHA.

A fourth machine will be coming from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the next six weeks.