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Rishard Khan

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The South West Regional Health Authority will be able to do their COVID-19 testing by the week’s end after the Ministry of Health sent some 3,000 test kits to the authority recently.

This is one of the strides made to expand testing locally for the virus after the ministry spent some $24 million to acquire more kits during the second phase of infections locally, which began on July 20 with case 139.

Speaking during the virtual press conference yesterday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said it should be up and running by Friday.

“The machine has been validated by CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency). They passed their test panel. They have trained the technicians, we have put the teams in place so South West is going to have significant ease,” Deyalsingh said.

Deyalsingh explained that when it becomes operational, there will no longer be the need for samples taken within the SWRHA to be transported to Port-of-Spain to be tested and then send a result back to south.

He said there are three types of test kits being used locally and they had made purchases for additional quantities.

“We have in stock, three types of test kits. The BGI test kits which we get from China. We currently have 8,000 in stock and we have an order for 20,000 which would come in in October of this year. That 20,000, we have invested $2 million TT,” he said.

“The Abbott system, where we did have challenges to getting the kits out of the United States, I am happy to say we got 8,000 kits ahead of schedule; 2,000 have been sent to NCRHA (North Central Regional Health Authority) because they have their own PCR machine, 2,000 have been sent to MRFTT, which we brought on stream about two weeks ago, 1,064 would be sent to the TPHL (Trinidad Public Health Laboratory) stores, and- this is the positive development- 3,000 have been sent to South West Regional Health Authority.”

These purchases, including the 160,000 rapid antigen test kits purchased through the Pan American Health Organisation, cost taxpayers an estimated $23.9 million.