While the Ministry of Health has come under scrutiny for Trinidad and Tobago’s testing numbers for COVID-19, the representatives say the numbers arewell in keepingwith the recommendations made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Minister of Health, TerrenceDeyalsinghsaid that it’s important that the country manages resources to ensure that those who require testing the most are able to access it.
Chief Medical Officer Dr RoshanParasramalso explainedwhat qualifies a person to be tested for COVID-19, citing which cases prove to be more urgent.
“We test based on who presents to us as well as who has been linked to any prior case so primary, secondary,tertiaryoranyone presenting to the facility with viral illness, bearing in mind, of course, that testing always has been and will becontinuing to bea voluntaryprocess where people can say no,” he explained.
While citizens can’t present themselves for testing if they are asymptomatic,cases falling in that category can be tested under special circumstances.
“When someone is exposed, a family member for example, we would have tested those individuals as the only exception as asymptomatic people and we continue to do so.So, we’ll test those individuals with very high levels of exposure," he added.
This also covers those re-entering Trinidad and Tobago as part of the ongoing repatriation exercises as airport terminals and the overall transport process is deemed to be one of sufficient risk to exposure.
Dr Avery Hinds, who specialises in epidemiology and contact tracing for the Ministry of Health explained that resource management is ofparamount importance.
“Trinidad and Tobagohasemployed what is called purposive testing. We have not been attempting to test random, asymptomatic individuals because that is notthe best use of your resources and it gives you the wrong picture with regards to what’s going on in your population,” he said.