Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Health Ministry orders 160,000 rapid antigen test kits

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the Ministry has signed off on an order for 160,000 rapid antigen test kits.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday (August 31), Deyalsingh said this will be a ‘game changer’ for the public healthcare system.

Deyalsingh said the test kits were purchased at a cost of US$6 per test, amounting to around US$960,000.

He said these kits will be deployed at the primary level and at emergency departments and they will be working with the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) to get the test kits into the country in the shortest possible time.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC): ‘Rapid antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).’

‘Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. Antigen tests are currently authorized to be performed on nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens placed directly into the assay’s extraction buffer or reagent.’

‘Antigen tests are relatively inexpensive and can be used at the point-of-care. The currently authorized devices return results in approximately 15 minutes.’

‘Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 are generally less sensitive than viral tests that detect nucleic acid using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).’

‘Proper interpretation of antigen test results is important for accurate clinical management of patients with suspected COVID-19, or for identification of potentially infected persons when used for screening.’

If you or a loved one develops symptoms of COVID-19, please call the hotline 877-WELL or 800-WELL (9355) for further guidance. If the person is severely ill, call the 811 (emergency hotline) or call ahead to the Accident and Emergency Department of your nearest hospital for help and go in immediately. 

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