RADHICA DE SILVA
As the virus continues to spread across communities, hundreds of people are lining up to get COVID-19 testing at Victoria Labs in San Fernando.
Victoria Labs is the only accredited private hospital in South Trinidad that is approved for testing by the Ministry of Health.
When Guardian Media visited, people were swabbed as they sat in their cars. As vehicles moved up in an orderly fashion, personnel on the street directed traffic, to not inconvenience the neighbours at Guppy Street, San Fernando.
Naurice Mitchell told Guardian Media that he needed to get the test done so that he could have clearance to travel.
Several people concerned about possible COVID symptoms also arrived and were tested and sent away within 20 minutes.
A businesswoman said she needed her test results quickly so that she could go back to work.
“If I had gone to a public health institution, I would have had to wait eight to ten days to get my results back. I cannot afford to be in quarantine for so long,” she said.
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, director of Victoria Labs, Neil Ajodha, said an average of 150 to 200 people were coming per day to do PCR and antigen COVID tests at his facility.
“We started to do the real-time PCR tests last August. We also do the quick antigen test but that is not as accurate as the PCR. If we find any positive with the quick test, we do a PCR to get an accurate result,” Ajodha said.
The PCR test costs $1,100 and Ajodha explained that the shortage of foreign exchange was hampering his ability to access reagents for sampling.
He noted that despite the long lines he had hired additional staff to cater for the demand in COVID tests. Currently, testing is done twice per day, but Ajodha said he plans to roll out another round of testing as the demand increases.
Guardian Media will bring you more as this story unfolds.