From next Tuesday, spot testing will be done across the country for viral illnesses circulating amid the covid19 pandemic and national lockdown, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said at Friday’s virtual media briefing.
“At the Ministry of Health we have taken a decision to ramp up our testing across the country to do what is called surveillance testing.
“From Tuesday we’ll be selecting one health centre in every county where we’ll be randomly sampling people who have viral illness symptoms, not necessarily covid, but once you have a viral illness symptom like stuffy nose, a cough, a fever, we’ll start that enhanced protocol of sampling.”
He said this initiative is being driven by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.
“What that will do as he has told me is give us an idea of what is circulating in TT beside covid, and if covid is there.”
Deyalsingh said two patients may be ready to leave the Couva Hospital on Thursday, with 30 possibly poised to go to a step down facility. In Balandra, 22 people were swabbed on Thursday and if their tests come back negative, they will be able to go home.
He said six people were released from Caura Hospital based on protocols established by Dr Michelle Trotman, not based on any threat of legal action.
Deyalsingh said the CMO did not intervene to release them based on the threat of a lawsuit but because their tests had come back negative.
Asked if sampling will be voluntary or selected, he said, “We are going to start sampling in the health sectors. Of course it is voluntary. But it is not a random sample. You just don’t walk up there and we sample you. As indicated, people who currently have respiratory illness, or who are showing signs of the flu, they will be selected for sampling. Then we will determine what is circulating in the environment. Is it H1N1? Is it Influenza B? Is it covid? Is it anything else? This is all part of the sampling protocol, testing protocol, as the pandemic evolves.”
He justified community testing. “This is all part of the global protocols you use when you have a pandemic. You start to go out like in concentric circles. You focus first on your known cases, your suspected cases and then you broaden your base.”