The Opposition United National Congress (UNC) is making another call for Government to increase the amount of testing done to determine the extent of COVID-19 infection in the population.

The call comes after Government released new clinical data about testing, showing that roughly one-tenth of those tested were COVID-19 positive, and revealing that just under 1,200 unique individuals have been tested for the virus, thus far.

According to the Opposition, the limited testing capacity is putting citizens in serious danger, since a true picture of COVID-19 infection cannot be ascertained.

The full text of the Opposition’s statement, follows…

UNC CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND INCREASE COVID-19 TESTING

The United National Congress is deeply concerned about the low levels of testing during this Covid-19 crisis. Testing for the virus is the most important step any can take to ensure that all measures taken are data driven.

The World Health Organisation stressed from the onset that the only way to turn the tide and defeat this virus is to “test, test, test”. The limited testing capacity that continues to be practiced by this Government, either deliberately or otherwise, puts this country in a dangerous position, as we do not know the true extent of Covid-19 infections within Trinidad and Tobago.

Covid-19 was declared a dangerous infectious disease on 31 January 2020, since then only 1195 persons have been tested nationwide. The question remains, statistically, is that a sufficient sample size to ascertain the true picture of what we are facing. Despite Minister Deyalsingh’s repeated promises to ramp up testing over the last few weeks, this has not been done. In fact, the government testing remains well below international levels.

Additionally, why have there not been any posthumous testing for COVID-19 since the outbreak? Without posthumous testing we will never know the true statistic of deaths resulting from COVID-19.

How many individuals have died, and their deaths were just recorded as pneumonia, acute asthmatic attacks, lower respiratory tract infections, and heart failures? All of these deaths are questionable and raises doubts in the minds of citizens as to the Government’s numbers.

If there is no posthumous testing how can we have accurate data to drive our response?

The only way to effectively beat this virus is to base all decisions on accurate and timely data. The United National Congress is again calling on the Government to immediately begin wider testing for Covid-19. On 10 April, the Deyalsingh announced the intention to start surveillance testing from April 14th, yet our testing numbers have seemingly plateaued. The numbers being put forth by the Ministry of Health on a daily basis, careful analysis will show, we simply are not testing enough.

Data is our main defense and offense in the fight against Covid-19. The lack of testing means we do not have sufficient data. The United National Congress is calling on the Government to do the right thing and immediately ramp up testing for Covid-19.