COVID-19 testing backlog eliminated

COVID-19 testing backlog eliminated

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials confirmed the previously reported backlog of over 800 unprocessed samples has been eliminated.

The National Reference Lab (NRL) and the Princess Margaret Hospital lab are processing samples within 48-72 hours, according to  McMillian.

She explained that the Ministry of Health has revised its protocol to prioritize testing for certain groups.

Those groups include suspected cases or persons under investigation who are admitted to acute care settings, symptomatic persons, and health care workers with high-risk exposure to COVID-19 cases prior to release from isolation or quarantine.

The NRL now has the capacity to run two sets of 96 samples per day, if the samples are prepared with the requisite support, according to the health minister.

He also noted that the PMH lab has performed 794 tests on samples since August 17.

According to the Ministry of Health’s data, 62 percent of samples were processed with 72 hours or less of the sample being received by the lab.

The remaining 38 percent of samples experienced delays from four days to 30 days – of which she called outliers.

Data further showed that the median result delay is two days for Grand Bahama, four days for Grand Bahama, and four days for Family Islands.

As of yesterday, a total of 10,917 tests have been completed as reflected on the dashboard.

However, McMillian noted the data currently does not reflect the individual number of people tested because some people are tested multiple times.

“The number on the dashboard does reflect multiple testing of an individual person possibly and certainly in certain categories that is required,” she said.

“We have to test health care workers and others twice if they have had a high risk exposure and in other settings we have to do multiple tests.

“So the number that you see is not truly reflective of individual tests of persons.”

McMillian advised that officials have to do a deeper dive into the data, once its data management revamp is completed, to be able to provide this viewpoint.

Bed Capacity  

On Thursday, the Consultant Physician Staff Association (CPSA) had warned that the country’s main healthcare facilities had reached capacity for COVID-19 positive patients.

Health Minister Renward Wells, however, sought to assure yesterday that the ministry was moving to meet the significant demands.

He advised that for the COVID-19 response there are 10 beds at the South Beach Urgent Care and Referral Centre; 16 beds at the Cancer Association of The Bahamas building in Grand Bahama; four beds in the Legacy Unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital 10 beds in the old General Practice Clinic; 18 beds currently available at the 62-bed National Response Facility at the SuperClubs Breezes resort; 21 beds at Doctors Hospital West; and five beds at Doctors Hospital East.

Wells noted 30 beds are expected to come on stream in short order following the re-location of boarders from the Princess Margaret Hospital

Additionally, health officials advised that there is adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), including coveralls, gloves, N-95, KN-95, and ear looped masks.

Ventilators on hand remain at 62 and 10 of these are undergoing repair by biomedical engineers.

The available test kits are at “normal levels”, according to the minister.