“If we did not have the information on day one, it’s not going to become available on day 21” – Dr Swann
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With nearly five percent of coronavirus cases in The Bahamas still pending locations, Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, indicated yesterday that it would be “impossible” for the surveillance team to know where those positive cases are.
Health officials have previously indicated that the cases with locations pending were the result of insufficient information provided upon testing.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Forbes said: “It’s very important that health teams have the correct and accurate information including contact information and that the forms are completed properly.
“It’s the only way that outbreak management can be done.
“If that information is left off and there’s no contact number, they can’t pull it out of a hat.
“It could definitely be, wherever they are, they are not contacted and that’s definitely not a good ting, but that’s something we can fix.”
As of Sunday, the number of positive cases in the country stood at 5,773, with 253 cases still pending locations.
Asked whether those individuals are being contacted traced, given that their locations are unknown, Forbes said: “To do contact tracing you need to be able to reach them and get their contacts.
“So if it is that their contact information is not there, that could be challenging.”
During a press conference on Friday, Dr Phillip Swann, who leads the Ministry of Health’s SharePoint system, noted that “in the grand scheme of things”, the current number of positive cases with locations pending is not going to significantly change the epidemiological profiles of those cases.
“The challenge is that when we receive results they sometimes do not have the locations of the individuals who would have been tested and tested positive,” Swann said.
“In addition to that they may not have had telephone contacts for us to reach individuals to find out where they live.
“That doesn’t change over the course of time.
“So if we did not have the information on day one, it’s not going to become available on day 21.”
Swann explained that if there is a location pending, that means officials don’t know exactly where that individual is from when the test was conducted.
“That is not going change unless that persons as retested with the same date of birth and that new test now has a location on it,” he added.
“Then we can verify that it may indeed be the same individual but until that happens the numbers will remain as they are.
“We don’t want to make up data so that you can get an idea that the number is lower.”
The government has now introduced new measures in order to standardize COVID-19 RT PCR testing in The Bahamas.
All laboratories providing COVID-19 tests are required to be registered with the Ministry of Health and will be subject to periodic cross-referencing to ensure quality control.
Additionally, laboratories are prohibited from administering the COVID-19 RT PCR test unless the patient provides all identifying information required by the Case Identification Form.
Those labs are also required to turn around test results within a maximum of 48-hours.