Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 20, 2020 (SKNIS): Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws said that St. Kitts and Nevis enjoys one of the highest rates of testing per capita in the eastern Caribbean and amongst CARICOM Member states for the COVID-19 virus.
Testing persons for the COVID-19 virus is a priority for the Ministry of Health and it will continue this process, she said, during the April 19 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing.
Dr. Laws stated that at present the ministry utilizes two laboratories including the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Laboratory in Trinidad and the Next Generation Laboratory in Basseterre, St. Kitts.
She said that samples of persons with symptoms or symptomatic patients are sent to the CARPHA Laboratory in Trinidad for processing. However, CARPHA does not process samples from asymptomatic contacts of COVID-19 patients.
“In other words, CARPHA does not process samples from patients who are contacts of COVID-19 who do not have symptoms. These asymptomatic contacts are processed at the Next Gen Lab locally,” she said.
Dr. Laws noted that the list of contacts is significantly longer than the list of suspected cases. She added that this has created a large volume of samples to be processed at the Next Generation Lab.
“This can add to the waiting time for results as the labs capacity could be stretched if, for example, one symptomatic patient can have as many as 20 or more contacts,” she said.
The Chief Medical Officer said that sometimes a patient may need to be retested “the same way one can be called back to have a routine blood test repeated if the sample was deemed not adequate.”
“A person can also be retested if there is a change in their clinical status or to determine their progress. One person could have unknowingly had more than one potential exposure in time and may need to be retested. Retesting is therefore a critical part of the process of diagnosing COVID-19. Retesting is not unusual in the clinical setting,”she said.