Sunday 5 July, 2020

PAHO: Caribbean countries need to increase testing for COVID-19

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has called for member states to expand their testing measures for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

PAHO Director, Dr Carissa Etienne said mass testing is important since it will allow countries to accurately determine how many people within their borders contracted the virus.

“We need a clearer view of where the virus is circulating and how many people have been infected in order to guide our actions,” Etienne stated during PAHO’s weekly COVID-19 briefing.

“It is important to accelerate and expand testing to track the spread of COVID-19 in the Americas.”

Etienne said enhanced testing will allow authorities to break the chain of infection and she urged authorities to adopt policies similar to those of Germany and South Korea where thousands of person were tested for COVID-19.

She noted many member states do not have the facilities or resources to quickly process a large volumes of tests and manufacturers cannot meet the need.

But, PAHO has recommended countries use all of their public and private labs, prioritise patients with symptoms and have tests free of charge.  

This week, PAHO will dispatch 1.5 million PCR tests and another three million will follow next week to strengthen lab surveillance networks.

The agency is also working on acquiring tests that work on open and closed platform machines.

Etienne called on manufactures to work with PAHO to ensure all member states can have equal access to testing resources.

Meanwhile, PAHO’s Director of Health Emergencies Dr Ciro Ugarte said the expects to spend around US$30.5 million to assist Caribbean Government’s fight against the COVID-19 over the next six months.

Only 10 percent of the money has been received by PAHO and it has been distributed to PAHO’s coordinators in member states.

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