Clamping down on COVID-19 testing by private labs could trigger a “tidal wave” in cases, according to Medcorp Limited chairman Dr Kongshiek Achong Low.
The specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist yesterday criticised Health Minister’s Terrence Deyalsingh’s statement that his ministry was planning to involve the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to review whether private laboratories were breaching the law by offering COVId-19 testing.
“We have done nothing illegal,” he told Guardian Media in a telephone interview yesterday.
Achong Low said this was the responsible approach to ensure the safety of patients, staff and by extension the population.
This week, a digital flyer for drive-through COVID-19 testing circulated on social media and messaging platforms, indicating that it could be done at the St Clair Medical Centre at a cost of $1,650. The flyer stated the centre was using PCR testing, which the company described as the most accurate test for COVID-19.
Achong Low said the tests are critical to performing elective surgeries.
“All we are doing is trying to do the responsible thing,” he said.
He explained that an irresponsible approach to elective surgeries could lead to the unwanted spread of the virus to medical staff.
“You can’t do elective surgery without screening people,” he added.
“What you are then trying to do is to create not a second wave (of infections), you are trying to create a tidal wave if you try to do that (elective surgeries) and not screen people.”
Achong Low said as of now, there is no testing taking place at the facility because a lot of confusion has occurred since Thursday’s news conference. He lamented the psychological impact on patients who were finally getting their procedures done.
Patients, he said, are now in a state of anxiety and stress, potentially compounding their existing health issues.
“Can you imagine the poor patients are walking around saying that, ‘the minister wants to put us in jail.’ Can you imagine?” he remarked.
“I think this is atrocious.”
He said this had also led to consternation by physicians and staff at the facility.
Achong Low told Guardian Media nothing illegal was done, adding Medcorp Limited’s lab is the only internationally accredited facility of its kind in the region. However, he said his organisation was not identified during Thursday’s news conference and he will await further information. He also said all that his medical institution does is “always in the interest of the patient.”
Reporter: Khamal Georges