CARPHA: No backlog of Covid tests- results given within 24-48 hours

CARPHA: No backlog of Covid tests- results given within 24-48 hours

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) said there are no pending results at the lab, adding that the number of samples with more than a 48 hour from reception at CARPHA and pending remain at zero.

According to a statement from the Agency, CARPHA pledged to deliver results to the Chief Medical Officers within 24-48 hours of receipt of the specimens in February when testing commenced.

Throughout the pandemic period, CARPHA has been guiding laboratory action through science-based testing protocols based on the latest recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

CARPHA’s Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) continues to conduct tests for suspected COVID-19 cases for 18 of its 26 Member States.

As of Tuesday, 11th August 2020, the number of samples tested totaled 13,815.

CARPHA said that none of the results of these samples have been delivered past 48 hours after receipt of the samples.

According to CARPHA, “Backlogs and prolonged wait times can complicate efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.”

“A delay in test results can mean a setback for public health authorities to decide on a course of action – to implement contact tracing, provide appropriate care and guidance, or to inform someone that they have not contracted the virus.”

Dr. Gabriel M. Gonzalez- Escobar, Head of Laboratory Services and Networks at CARPHA, said that the organization continues to adhere to good laboratory practices that produce accurate results.

“Our testing strategies and cadre of well-trained staff work to ensure that there is no backlog for tests or pending results.”

However, at a press conference last week Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram explained that the uptick in cases does not represent overnight tests, but samples that would have been received from the previous week.

With 78 cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday, Thursday, it begs the question about the accuracy of the figures being presented.

For example, in its Thursday afternoon release, the Ministry of Health revealed that 35 new, positive cases were reported but the numbers show results from samples taken during the period August 6 to present.

It stated that the figure is not representative of the positive cases over the last 24 hours only.

Additionally, UWI and private labs are now being used to test the virus which may account for the lag or delay time in reporting the positive cases.

Still, CARPHA said it is determined not to delay the time it takes for people to get their results, and consequently, the CMML does not retain possession of backlogs in its facilities.

Dr. Escobar said, “We know that timely reporting of laboratory results is important as it can make a difference to Member States.”

Dr. Escobar further stated, “The CMML remains committed to delivering prompt Covid-19 results to the region. In the case of Covid-19  laboratory emergency response, once a sample is received from a designated national public health laboratory, we issue the result within 24-48 hours.”

In June 2020, the CMML received a total of 3,250 samples, representing an average of more than 150 samples per business day.

This represented the largest number of samples processed and a notable achievement in the history of the organisation.

CARPHA’s COVID-19 response, particularly in the area of diagnostic testing, is currently being supported by its International Development Partners (IDPs) including the European Union (EU), World Bank (WB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

As of Thursday evening, the total number of positive Covid-19 cases in T&T stands at 404.