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Political leader of the PNM Tobago Council Tracy Davidson-Celestine.

Health officials in Tobago say the backlog of 350 COVID-19 swabs done in Tobago has been cleared.

However, people will still have to wait, as the results are not available yet. This is according to County Medical Officer of Health (CMO) Tobago, Dr Tiffany Hoyte who was among a group of other senior health officials at this week’s virtual press conference, hosted by the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development. According to the CMO, persons who were swabbed in Tobago and had samples sent to Trinidad for testing will still have to wait to find out their COVID-19 status.

“While the samples would have been tested we still awaiting the reports so that we can distribute the reports to persons, my understanding is that the backlog has been cleared and the reporting part of it is what we working on right now.”

During an interview on CNC3 on August 28, Secretary in the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson Celestine admitted that there was a backlog of swabs at the Scarborough Regional Hospital as the PCR Machine at the hospital is unable to handle the capacity of testing being done on the island. During the interview she said, “We can only do two tests every 45 minutes to an hour it’s a challenge for us there is an average, we may do up to 25 swabs here in Tobago per day so it’s a challenge for us.”

While Davidson said the expected wait time for the results was “just about one week” she said there will be priority testing, for persons seeking care at the Scarborough Regional Hospital and their primary contacts.

The situation is compounded in Tobago as persons who may choose to access testing at a private lab will have to do so in Trinidad because there are no labs certified to conduct COVID-19 tests in Tobago.

Guardian Media has received reports of persons being unable to report back to work as doing so requires medical clearance as evidenced by a negative COVID-19 test result. She said those persons will not be accommodated.

“We’ve had instances where employers ask persons to present COVID-19 at the public facilities we provide testing for persons who present with viral symptoms of for known contacts.”

Dr Hoyte also went on to say that the public lab would not be able to accommodate persons who are requesting testing for the purpose of travelling.

“We know that it is mandatory for persons if you have to travel for persons to have a test, unfortunately, we are unable to provide such testing at the public facility, so for persons who require testing these tests have to be done at the certified private institutions.”

To date 1,049 persons have been swabbed for COVID-19 in Tobago, 59 of these persons were tested positive. There are currently 16 active cases, 10 of which are at a currently housed at a COVID-19 treatment facility, five are at a step-down facility and one patient is in the intensive care unit. To date, there has been one COVID-19 death on the island.

Meanwhile, a total of 81 new COVID-19 cases were announced in T&T by the Ministry of Health yesterday.