Public health authorities have made “significant progress” in chipping away at the backlog of COVID-19 test results, Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared Wednesday, revealing that she has personally overseen the testing at the Government’s laboratory.
The Government had introduced a four-tier priority system to tackle the backlog that in some cases had led to people waiting over ten days for results, as the Prime Minister also indicated that new rapid antigen and rapid PCR tests had helped to erase the backlog.
She said both the United Kingdom and the United States – which are now requiring travellers to produce negative COVID-19 tests on arrival – have agreed to accept both tests.
She said as of Wednesday only those in Categories 3 and 4 are left awaiting results.
The Prime Minister said she herself had spent five of the last seven nights in the Best Dos Santos lab overseeing the process.
She told journalists at Ilaro Court on Wednesday morning: “The first thing that I want to speak to you about is the thing I spoke to you last about which is our lab. Since we have spoken the truth is that significant progress has been made with respect to the lab.
“Persons who have reached the ten-day point as we agreed on the last occasion, we would be giving them the rapid antigen test and that has been going on since last week Friday evening and every day we have been literally clearing people out of quarantine who were there before January 10.
“If you recall that was the deadline that we set ourselves and started the new categorization from Monday, January 11 last week.
“As a result, today is the last day that we will be taking persons who have not come in yet. There was a complication I believe with some persons coming out of the St Philip polyclinic whose results for whatever reason were delayed and they too have been tested and will continue to be tested along with those who have come in from January 10.
“With respect to where we are since the introduction of categories, I’m happy to report that even as we speak the majority of persons who have not yet heard will be hearing today largely because the lab has completed over the course of the last few days over 3,100 tests. But more importantly for you, on the last two days what remains are the Category 3 and Category 4 tests from January 18 and 19.”
The Prime Minister said with the majority of test results already returned, the remaining results should be delivered by today.
She added: “We received 1,054 tests on Monday and we completed 854 and we received yesterday 570 and we have completed 210. What remains to be done are the remaining samples of Category 3 and 4 predominantly and as we speak, they are entering the data on the spreadsheet so that the certificates from the work done over the last 24 hours where there really was a massive push can be communicated to all of the persons today.”
Mottley acknowledged that while the process had not gone as smoothly as expected, she was satisfied that headway had been made.
She said: “This has been a difficult time for the country largely because of the explosion in the numbers of tests and we have had serious difficulties with some of them but we have been able to respond adequately.
“Having introduced the categories for the first time last Monday, are we 100 per cent happy with how they are working? Not fully. But are they largely working and much better than we were without the categories? Yes, they are.” (RB)