After a rough weekend of bottlenecked COVID-19 test results at the public health lab taking several days to get back to waiting visitors and nationals, the Government’s new system to fast-track some results is finally working, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced Thursday.
She revealed that a significant dent should be made by the end of the weekend as she spoke during Thursday’s COVID-19 outbreak from Ilaro Court.
The Prime Minister sought to outline the sheer quantity of tests the lab has had to deal with over the first week of January.
She revealed: “The 7th of January we would have received 2,154 tests, and we have already completed 1,717 results for that day, for the 8th of January, we received 2,786 tests and we have already completed 1,278 in that backlog. On the 9th of January we received 1,384 tests and we have completed only 414, and on the 10th of January, 1,165 tests were received and we have completed 230. If you can see by the numbers of tests, you will be able to understand, therefore, that what this country faced last week was a veritable explosion between the 31st of December and 10th of January.”
Mottley said the new four-tier system designed for prioritising testing and receiving results, coupled with the extra staff resources at the lab, had started bearing fruit.
When the new system was introduced on Monday, the labs and the polyclinics collectively tested 908 people, she said.
“The Best-Dos Santos Lab has already completed results for 720 of those 908; bear in mind the requirement for the first 24 hours is Category 1 and with respect to the shortfall that we have been having to tweak and improve the collection of data at the time of the collection of tests,” she explained.
With respect to January 12 of 1,208 tests performed, Mottley said those test results were delivered on Tuesday night and the lab had already completed 690 and the remainder should be completed by Thursday night.
“The 13th, yesterday… we received 1,058 and we have already completed 266 of the Category 1 tests to date and therefore they will be continuing with January 12 and January 13.
Mottley said there were two fully functioning labs that were isolated, “one lab to keep current and another lab to be able to deal with the backlog and we actually have three machines running, two in the backlog lab and one in the current lab”.
She added: “So with respect to the backlog, we are in a position between January 7 and 11 where we still have just over about 3,000 tests to be completed with the backlog.
“The best advice being given to us from the head of the lab and I have accepted… is that we should be able to clear the majority of the backlog for which we have genuine information between now and the end of the weekend.”
She explained that faulty samples also contributed to the delay but said the majority of those have now been dealt with.
Mottley said: “For those persons, many of them were asked over the course of last few days to be retested and in many instances, many of them have already received their new results and have been released in most instances with a handful being positive.
“Fortunately, we have been able to, as I said last Friday, to increase the numbers of persons both in the lab, as well as communicating the results. We have been able to expand the call centre significantly, we have also been able to have different departments come in together to help, has been able to identify the Categories 1, 2, 3 and 4, especially in the backlog, given the fact that the new system was only implemented going forward from the 11th of January because when we announced it on the night of the 8th, as you would appreciate, it would have been difficult for the polyclinics to implement it before the Monday morning since they are the primary locations for the test.
“I am satisfied my friends that we are on our way towards getting there, we are not quite there yet, and that is why I’ve said that we will continue to update you, because, in all things, I have promised you full transparency and accountability. I am also comfortable that the lab staff, the additional doctors and the additional people who have been brought in, are working beyond the call of duty to do that which is necessary to be able to report and give back persons their results.”
Prime Minister Mottley also added that a virologist from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is to arrive here to do additional training with the lab technicians, with additional assistance from the Cuban government already receiving the greenlight. (SB)