NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Nearly 1,300 people have been tested for COVID-19 in The Bahamas as health officials expand testing to capture a more representative sample of the extent of community spread.
During a live press conference, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said 1,281 people have been tested to date.
Due to unreliability and a lack of concordance with RT PCR tests, Sands said COVID-19 rapid tests will not be used to confirm positive or negative cases of the novel coronavirus.
At last report, the Ministry of Health had over 15,000 rapid test kits in-country.
The ministry will continue to use the PCR tests.
There have been 81 cases of the virus in The Bahamas — 65 in New Providence, eight in Bimini, seven in Grand Bahama and one in Cat Cay.
The latest case is a 29-year-old woman from New Providence.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said nearly 1,200 people were tested up to Wednesday, and nearly 1,300 tests were completed as of today.
Asked whether health officials had ramped up testing to 100 people per day, Brennen said the National Laboratory was “getting there”.
In Parliament Monday, Sands said The Bahamas was flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases with authorities yielding some benefits from the implemented restrictions, namely the 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns.
At the time, Sands said Bimini had emerged as a hotspot.
The island had eight cases as of Sunday and one COVID-19-related death on the island.
More than 400 people have been tested on the island.
Brennen said he would provide the breakdown of testing per island when available.
During his communication Monday, Sands said expanding testing to the point of testing on demand remains challenged due to limitation in the international supply chain on specific testing items, such as swabs and RT PCR test kits.
There were over 1,100 swabs and at least 4,000 RT PCR kits in The Bahamas, with more on order for both items.
Health officials had repeatedly expressed the need for expanding testing capacity to curb the spread of the virus and prevent further loss of life.
According to Sands, the average case of a patient with the virus has 50 social contacts.
There have been 11 COVID-19-related deaths.