Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh.


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Private labs are being encouraged to obtain validation to bolster testing availability for COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh made the call for private labs to come on board during the Ministry of Health’s daily press conference on COVID-19 matters yesterday.

“We are asking all private labs, once you have your PCR machines, to approach CARPHA for validation,” Deyalsingh said.

“The new regulations under section eight now puts a positive requirement, a positive duty of care on private labs who are certified by CARPHA to have a positive reporting obligation to report their results directly to the chief medical officer and not to individuals.”

Deyalsingh explained that the immediate report to CMO Dr Roshan Parasram would be done to ensure the Ministry of Health’s database of positive cases are immediately up to date.

Parasram also said this result delivery process was the standard procedure.

“Patients generally don’t get the result, usually the result is sent to the physicians. The physicians need to let me know what the result is and counsel you appropriately when they do so,” Parasram said.

Deyalsingh said the pricing of the tests would be determined by the labs, noting that some labs already did testing which falls between the price range of $1,000 to $2,000 but he would be encouraging them to keep the figure reasonable.

“We just ask all private labs to price your services reasonably. What we want is a national effort to save our way of life and to save lives,” he said.

He pointed out that in the US, a test without medical insurance costs $1,000 while in the UK a test costs £450.

It had just been last week that the minister had advised the country that CARPHA was the only validated testing centre for COVID-19, as he announced plans to add three more testing areas. He said Government was sticking with CARPHA alone because some private labs were doing unreliable tests. Parasram confirmed this yesterday, saying they had had three such false results from local labs.

But yesterday, Deyalsingh explained that the ministry’s plan to ramp up testing had hit a set back due to the lack of extraction kits available. He said the lack of cargo planes due to international restrictions delayed the arrival of the kits, which he said were crucial to obtaining DNA samples from the tests.

Earlier, Parasram confirmed that case 106 was from Tobago.

“That is an imported case that was isolated from the onset, “ he said, adding that the 26 cases at Caura were awaiting negative tests so that they can be discharged.

He also confirmed progress with patients at the Couva Hospital.

“In Couva there is a total 70 cases, one ICU cases that is not ventilated and is fairly stable, three persons in the high dependency unit and the remaining 66 persons are doing very well. A vast majority of them are no asymptomatic, awaiting their negative tests as well. And as I said yesterday we have added one person to the transfer list, there are 15 persons awaiting transfer out of that facility and we will be doing that in the next couple days. Once we identify and have a ready a suitable place for decanting,” he said, adding that barring some changes, the 22 at Balandra, who returned home last month from an ill-fated Caribbean cruise, could be sent home soon.

T&T has also recorded eight COVID-19 deaths so far, the latest being a woman from Diego Martin who was the second female fatality.