Darville: New Providence appears to be the epicenter of the omicron variant
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville said yesterday RT-PCR testing will be included in its ongoing pilot program that is soon to be launched on New Providence as coronavirus cases soar.
However, the government has yet to reveal what its free testing program will cost taxpayers.
“The government’s free testing program is actually being assessed,” the minister told the media.
“We’re planning to activate our free pilot testing programs here in New Providence, which appears to be the epicenter of the omicron variant.
“Those free testing programs are about to take place.
“Hopefully, we’ll get them in order this week.
“They will be at our centers where we are vaccinating.
“So, there will be free testing, free mask giveaways as well as vaccinations, all going on simultaneously across New Providence.”
To critics who have said RT-PCR testing was expected to be a part of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign promise for free testing, Darville said: “Well, there will be some PCR testing in our free testing program.
“The methodology as well as the protocols of when free testing PCR tests would be implemented along with the rapid antigen test, those are conditions [that are] being worked out and they will be incorporated in our digital platform.”
When asked how much the free testing will cost taxpayers, the minister said the government continues to “look at the numbers”.
“I don’t want to give a quote, but we have some checks and balances in our pilot free testing, all a part of what we want to do before we launch free testing,” Darville said.
There will be free testing, free mask giveaways as well as vaccinations, all going on simultaneously across New Providence.
– Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Michael Darville
“The worst thing you can do with testing is launch it and have to pull it back because many of the variables were not thought about, and so, we are now moving to New Providence and we are going to introduce [the] free testing pilot program at various different sites throughout New Providence.
“…The parameters of how the testing would be done will be released shortly.”
In November, government officials announced free testing nationwide was expected to launch in the first quarter of next year.
To date, the pilot program has launched on Inagua, Eleuthera and Exuma for rapid antigen tests.
Low or no-cost testing is available to anyone in the United States, including the uninsured, at health centers and select pharmacies.
Widespread testing is believed to provide a more accurate picture of the transmission of the virus.