Minister of Health Explains the Country’s Testing Strategy for COVID-19

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Testing is an essential piece in charting The Bahamas in-country strategy for the COVID-19 virus, the Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands said.

“The molecular PCR testing is the gold standard. To date more than three hundred 300 molecular tests have been completed in-country on samples from persons who meet the testing criteria,” Dr. Sands stated as he presented an update on the COVID-19 response in the House of Assembly, Monday, April 6, 2020.

He noted that there are real constraints to upscaling molecular testing.

 

“Quite simply, there is a limited supply of test kits, swabs and human resources in the National Reference Laboratory.

 

“Facing similar issues and with insightful forethought, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China extended its kind hand of generosity by donating 1,000 test kits to assist the Government of The Bahamas with confirmation of suspected COVID-19 cases.”

 

Dr. Sands said, “On behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Ministry of Health wishes to express its deep appreciation to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for this valued and very practical donation.”

 

He added these tests kits will go a long way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

 

“As an invaluable friend and partner, The Bahamas looks forward to continued cooperation and collaboration with the People’s Republic of China.”

He said the Health Ministry is also exploring the introduction of rapid testing. The first step in the process requires in-country validation of the rapid serological testing. Once this validation is completed, wider screening for COVID-19 at the community level will commence. There are 10,000 rapid test kits in-country.

 

Dr. Sands added that the Ministry is also aggressively exploring various ways and means to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory and other supplies.

 

He said, “The global shortage of PPEs and other needed supplies has resulted in supply chain disruptions. Many countries are holding on to their stock, and others are coveting the stocks found in other countries. Hence, we must manage our current supplies judiciously.”

 

The Health Minister added, “Our goal is to ensure that there is a consistent supply of PPEs to frontline nurses, doctors and support staff. With this equipment, they can provide the necessary care to individuals presenting to and being admitted to health care facilities.”

 

He also explained that while individuals in the community may wish to utilize masks as they move around, they are strongly encouraged NOT to use health care grade surgical and N95 masks which are in short supply and needed on a sustained basis to care for patients.

 

The adequate supplies of PPEs are as follows:

  •  
  • 1,000 boxes of surgical masks
  • 43,995 of N95 masks
  • 2,418 surgeon gowns
  • 1,672 healthcare barrier gowns
  •  238 face shields
  •  4,590 boxes of gloves
  • 6,033+ PPE full kits, (masks, 2 gloves, boot cover, head cover, face shield)

Dr. Sands stated, “The Ministry of Health will continue to trump up efforts to ensure that our frontline health care workers are provided with appropriate PPEs and training to minimize their level of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.”