Only 2 institutions licensed to conduct PCR tests – Health Minister

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony on Monday said that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is the gold standard for detecting COVID-19 and only two local institutions are licensed to offer the test locally. Those institutions are the National Public Health Reference Laboratory and the Eureka Medical Laboratory.
As such, the Minister is urging that members of the public visit only licensed facilities.

Health Minister
Dr Frank Anthony

Dr Anthony is quoted by a Department of Public Information report as saying that there are several criteria which must be met before an institution can be authorised to perform the test.
“There are various stages of setting up this service. What is required is that the Ministry would have to send in a team to the facility to check exactly what you have, whether you have the PCR machine, if it’s working properly and whether you have the biohazard cabinets so that you can do the extraction of samples,” he explained, adding that these are all specific laboratory processes which must be observed.
Another important component is ensuring that there are trained personnel to conduct the tests.
“Again, this is a very specialised process, and therefore, you have to get the staff who understand how to do PCR testing,” the Minister is quoted by DPI as saying.
He added that the Ministry has trained 30 people in this regard.
“You can have people who are a little bit over-exuberant, and they are advertising falsely. So, people have to be aware of that,” Minister Anthony added.
Currently, the National Public Health Reference Laboratory can conduct 450 to 600 tests per day. Minister Anthony is hopeful that this increases to 1200 by the end of the month.

Kwebanna cases stabilising
Meanwhile in giving an update on the COVID-19 situation at Kwebanna, Barima-Waini (Region One), Dr Anthony said that cases there are stabilising but officials have noticed spikes in neighbouring communities.
During Monday’s COVID-19 update, Minister Anthony reiterated that medical teams were already on the ground to assist the local staff to curb the current situation, according to DPI.
“We have set up medical teams there, so that in case anybody deteriorates from maybe the mild form of COVID-19 to the more severe form, we will be able to detect this and take the appropriate action,” Dr Anthony is quoted as saying.
Minister Anthony gave assurances that the teams were ready to tackle emergencies.
As of November 1, Kwebanna had 62 active cases.
Last week, Kwebanna was on a complete lockdown after cases in the community suddenly spiked.