Coronavirus: Guyana seeks approval of rapid testing kits; projected to record 1,400 cases


With persons anxious to know whether they have contracted the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Ministry of Public Health is seeking approval to use the New Abbott’s ID NOW COVID-19 test.

At a press conference on Monday at the Police Officer’s Training Centre, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle said the Government is hesitant to use the rapid testing kits since it has not yet been endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“World Health Organisation did not endorse any of the rapid tests and we did ask about the New Abbott’s [ID NOW COVID-19] test that the US has brought out that can give you results in 15 minutes and the 45 minutes Abbot’s test that also used PCR testing and we were told that they’re supposed to find out from the WHO this week,” Dr Boyle noted.

The DCMO explained that the issue was discussed at a recent meeting with regional health officials where Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa F. Etienne assured that she will inquire about the tests.

“We know and we recognised a lot more people want to know, want to get tested.”

However, she added, “we want to err on the side of caution but we are waiting until WHO gives an endorsement and once we get an endorsement, we would want to consider making screening more affordable…If and when we get approval from the WHO, a lot more people will be tested.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle

The rapid screening test was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and provides results within 15 minutes to 45 minutes. It can be used in temporary screening locations, the doctor’s office labs and nursing homes to detect the new Coronavirus strain.

The Government of Guyana is currently using Confirmatory and Diagnostic test kits, some donated by the PAHO/WHO.

Director of Disease Control, Dr Nadia Liu explained that with the current testing kits, it takes 24 hours to get to the lab and another eight hours for testing.

Meanwhile, Country Representative for PAHO/WHO, Dr William Adu-Krow debunked claims that the lack of mass-testing is due to a lack of testing kits.

He said there are strict guidelines in terms of testing, which also exists in the US and Europe.

1,400 cases predicted for Guyana

Projections by the PAHO/WHO suggests that Guyana will confirm roughly 1,400 cases of the novel coronavirus by the end of the global pandemic. Of that amount, 100 can end up in Intensive Care Units.

In this regard, the Ministry will be preparing 100 ICU beds across the country.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence said of the total projected cases for Guyana, 81 per cent will be moderate, 14 per cent severe and five per cent critical.

She expressed confidence in the ministry’s preparedness to handle the projected cases. She disclosed that the health ministry will have 300 isolation beds in place for persons who are projected to contract the disease while there will be 730 beds for those who will be under quarantine.

As of March 30, 2020, in Guyana, a total of 46 persons have been tested for the disease.

Thirty-seven of the persons tested negative while eight tested positive.

Of the eight confirmed cases in Guyana, five were locally transmitted. Two of the confirmed cases have now been placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and there is one death reported on March 11.

One person’s test was inconclusive. The ministry said 36 persons are now in institutional quarantine.

The Ministry of Public Health is calling on all citizens to heed the health advisories and observe the correct hygiene measures and precautions.

Citizens are also asked to practice social distancing in the workplace, public spaces, and while using public transportation so as reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease.

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