Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Dr Faith BYisrael has warned of the dangers of a covid19 community spread in a small island like Tobago. She said in order to prevent such an occurrence there must be comprehensive testing on the island.
Speaking at the PDP’s virtual news conference on Wednesday, BYisrael welcomed Health Minister Dr Terrence Deyalsingh announcement on Monday that private medical labs with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines can now do covid19 tests, for a fee, once these labs are fully certified by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha). “The fact that they have now opened up the lab, as in private labs, to allow them to be certified or authorised to test, was also a wonderful thing because I had also stated categorically that even if, within our public health system, we did not have the necessary resources to do the testing, we could have partnered with a private lab for them to provide the testing for us here in Tobago,” she said.
“That offer has now been extended to all of the private labs in Trinidad and Tobago and, as a result, I am hoping those in Tobago are going to accept the offer.” BYisrael, whose professional background is in public health, said Tobago must also accept Deyalsingh’s offer of a PCR machine and technical advice.
“Let us start testing, post haste. This is critical. This is absolutely critical because we have a situation in Tobago, where, because of our size and because of what is happening with the cases that we have here, as in the confirmed cases, we need to then be very, very careful that we do not have community spread.” The THA Minority councillor said the current mode of testing, in which samples are sent to Trinidad, is not feasible. BYisrael said when Deyalsingh announced that private labs could now test “I was absolutely elated because this means that the lag time between testing in Tobago would be reduced.
“If we have our own testing being done here, we would not have to worry about collecting the samples, getting the samples to Trinidad and then lining up in the queue, in Trinidad, to get our samples tested.
“Originally, I understand that the wait time between sending the samples and getting back a result was between a day and two days.”BYisrael said she understands that time has been significantly extended.
“This means we have a situation where we are testing in Tobago and are not able to get back our results within two or three days. That is unacceptable because when it comes to covid19, time is of the essence. Time is absolutely critical.” BYisrael said Tobago must also use a different criteria to determine how people are tested.
She said although the World Health Organization and Carpha had started using symptomatic patients to test, the WHO, having reviewed data coming from other countries and recognising that a significant portion of the people who have covid19 are asymptomatic (showing no signs or symptoms), noted those people can still infect others.
“Given our very small size in Tobago, there are only about 60,000 of us, and given the fact that we have had several people come in and we have had cross infections happening at various levels, we need to reconsider whether we should be testing using the same criteria.”