UNC MP: Home covid19 test kits now too little, too late

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CARONI East MP Dr Rishad Seecheran. File photo –

CARONI East MP Dr Rishad Seecheran is saying the Health Ministry’s announcement on Monday that importers can now apply to bring in covid19 at-home rapid test kits is a case of too little, too late.

In a press release on Monday, Seecheran claimed the ministry had steadfastly ignored the UNC’s call for these test kits, which it made over ten months ago.

As a result, he is now wondering how many lives lost to covid could have been saved if these kits were available to provide a faster diagnosis and therefore quicker treatment.

The ministry said on Monday that importers can now apply to the Chemistry, Food and Drugs Division to bring in approved kits.

This follows on the heels of the announcement by the THA’s Division of Health, Wellness and Family Protection a week ago that Tobago would be increasing covid19 testing capacity by acquiring the test kits.

But Seecheran said. “Our nation’s PCR testing capacity is currently overwhelmed, as it takes several days to get a result. Hundreds of households have contracted covid19 in the last couple of months, and in many cases, it was from one family member who did not know their status.”

Many covid19-positive people have unwittingly infected family members and co-workers, assuming the symptoms they were exhibiting were thpdr of the common cold or allergies. With 711 covid deaths in December, the MP added, the ministry is now bracing for a surge in cases, due to Christmas gatherings, “zesser” parties and fetes on pleasure cruises.

He said a sensible approach would have been for rapid tests to be readily available before the Christmas season, allowing people to easily test before family gatherings or other mass-gathering events.

Seecheran said rapid tests are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that will protect people against the delta and highly-transmissible omicron variants.