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Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram yesterday revealed that the Ministry of Health’s goal of increasing testing for COVID-19 is being hampered because people are continuing to refuse swabbing for the virus “in a lot of instances.”

“We are trying to swab as many people as we can once they come in with any viral symptoms, no matter how mild they may be. But of course, people can refuse swabbing and they have. In a lot of instances, they do not want to be swabbed for whatever reason,” Parasram said during yesterday’s virtual press briefing.

“It’s voluntary. We can’t force anyone to be swabbed. What we have been advising is that persons… self-isolate to prevent the spread of whatever it may be. It may be the common cold but even so, we want to keep the viral levels (circulating within the population) low.”

Much like refusing to be swabbed, he said citizens can also refuse to be treated for COVID-19.

“A patient can, in any case, refuse treatment for any condition. They could sign to actually leave hospital (through a) discharge against medical advice form which happens in the normal non-communicable setting,” Parasram said.

However, he noted that they would still need to be under the supervision of the ministry.

“If someone looks as if they have COVID-19, it gives us the legal authority to quarantine or isolate that person under law until we either deem them non-infectious. We may not be able to administer any treatment if they refuse but at least we can isolate them to prevent the spread of diseases, which is what the quarantine amendment allowed us to do since January 31,” he said.

He said so far this week, 618 samples have been submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), UWI and other local sites for COVID-19 testing – 79 on Sunday, 86 on Monday, 173 in Tuesday and 280 on Wednesday. He had previously stated the country can test close to 1,300 samples per day and the ministry can only test those who present themselves for testing.